Alaska State Legislature has passed Senate Bill 99 (SB99), under which the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority (AIDEA) will provide $125m of funding for infrastructure and construction costs of Heatherdale Resources’ Niblack project.

The passage of bill by the Alaska State Legislature came one week after it passed SB99 and authorised AIDEA to provide $145m financial support to Ucore Rare Metals’ Bokan-Dotson Ridge rare earth element project.

The Niblack project is a copper-gold-zinc-silver underground mine located on tidewater near Ketchikan, on Prince of Wales Island in south-east Alaska.

Project plans include the construction of a mineral processing mill and dock, loading and associated infrastructure facilities at the Gravina Island Industrial Complex (GIIC), and other facilities at the Niblack project site.

"Renovation of the old lumber mill site will create value-added exports, and partnering the developers with AIDEA ensures fiscal responsibility."

As per the memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed by Heatherdale and AIDEA in 2013, the processing mill and dock, and loading and infrastructure facilities may be owned or financed by AIDEA, or both.

The agreement also covered a range of initiatives, including investigating potential plans to assist with financing energy facilities and other project infrastructure.

Heatherdale president and CEO Patrick Smith said Heatherdale and the Niblack project have been fortunate to receive widespread support from all levels of government and communities throughout south-east Alaska, including business groups, individual businesses and citizens who actively supported the passage of SB99 through direct contact with their elected officials.

"We look forward to securing a major funding partner for Niblack, and to moving the project into permitting, construction and operations in the months and years ahead," Smith said.

Alaska State Senator Lesil McGuire said this mining project is a step forward in revitalising the economy in south-east Alaska by providing significant employment opportunities.

"The renovation of the old lumber mill site will create value-added exports, and partnering the developers with AIDEA ensures fiscal responsibility with benefits to the entire state," McGuire said.

Funding for both the Niblack project and Bokan-Dotson Ridge project are subject to due diligence and board approval.