Bering Strait Traffic

For past few days I’ve been tracking bulk carrier Key Hunter, She sailed thru Bering Straits from Japan and is at anchor off nearby Kivalina Alaska.

Anyone have info on what this vessel is up to ?

Undoubtedly, she is loading zinc concentrate by lighter barge off the Red Dog Mine near Kivalina. Millions of tons are shipped out every summer.

Thanks Tug… never knew about the zinc mines. Would they load ore that far out to sea or is she waiting on better weather to move in closer ?

There are usually three or four ships anchored about five miles off Kivalina July through September.

FOSS operates four tugs and two big specialized self unloading barges to do the lightering. The ship is early. The Foss tugs didn’t leave Puget Sound all that long ago. They usually arrive about July 1st.

Western Towboat does most of the freight runs to the mine. I imagine they have probably done a couple of trips already.

It’s an open pit mine operated by Teck, a Canadian company, that runs year around. About 100 guys in the winter and 400 in the summer. The ore is processed to produce zinc concentrate and some lead that is stored in huge sheds until the ships arrive. If it’s not the worlds largest zinc concentrate mine it’s damn close. It’s been running for 20 years and has another 20 year life expectancy. The mine is located 28 miles inland on Native Corporation land.


Scuttlebutt is that ore barges are still in port clarence. Still roughly 12 miles of ice off red dog dock and haven’t been cleared yet due to subsistence hunts still ongoing. Western has two barges n. Bound

I noticed several boats on Marine Traffic in Port Clarence, but of course I don’t have the type of subscription that will tell me who they are.

Foss has made a fast passage from Tacoma. It has been pretty nice weather for the last few weeks.

I wasn’t aware that they disrupt Red Dog operations for subsistence hunting. I assume that’s walrus and seal hunting.

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On a related note, the icebreaking LNG carriers have begun to arrive from Russia through the Bering Strait with natural gas bound for China and Japan. Two ships have already passed, two are underway along the Siberian coast.