Placer and hard rock mining have a long history in Alaska and are still performed throughout the state today. Hard rock mining is typically a commercial operation and usually involves explosives and a mill to extract the minerals. Placer mining is typically mineral extraction from a stream bed and may be performed by either recreational or commercial miners.
Many preferred placer mining locations are associated with fish streams, and improper mining techniques can have negative effects on fish and their habitat. Mining activity in or near fish-bearing water bodies typically requires a Fish Habitat Permit.
Gravel bars and streambeds are an easily located and utilized source of gravel for construction needs throughout the state. Mining sand and gravel from upland sources is preferred, although a Fish Habitat Permit may be issued for work below ordinary high water , when few alternatives exist.
Development and operation of large hard rock and surface coal mines requires significant review and oversight by several state and federal resource agencies. State permit reviews of these projects are generally coordinated by the ADNR Office of Project Management and Permitting.