The History of Platinum

Platinum is located on the Bering Sea coast, below Red Mountain on the south spit of Goodnews Bay. It lies 11 miles from Goodnews Bay and 123 miles southwest of Bethel. It is 440 miles west of Anchorage. It lies at approximately 59 00' N Latitude, 161 49' W Longitude (Sec. 32, T013S, R075W, Seward Meridian). The community is located in the Bethel Recording District. The area encompasses 45 sq. miles of land and 0 sq. miles of water.

Platinum is near a traditional village site called Arviq. The community was established shortly after traces of platinum were discovered by an Eskimo named Walter Smith in 1926. Between 1927 and 1934, several small placer mines operated on creeks in the area. Some 3,000 troy ounces of platinum were mined over that period, with a value of about $48 per ounce. A post office opened in 1935. The "big strike" occurred in October of 1936, which brought a stampede of prospectors for "white gold." The claims proved to be too deep for hand mining methods and were bought out by two companies. The largest, Goodnews Mining Co., eventually acquired title to over 150 claims. In 1937 a large dredge was built at the mining site, about 10 miles from the village of Platinum. The Company also constructed bunkhouses, a recreation hall, offices, shops and a cafeteria. Platinum developed as a "company town," with the store, water, and electricity supplied by the mine. A school opened in 1960. By 1975, 545,000 ounces of platinum had been mined at the site. The mine was sold to Hanson Properties, who estimate reserves of over 500,000 ounces. The mine ceased operations in 1990.


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History and map graphic used with permission from the Alaska Department of Community and Economic Development