Matanuska-Susitna Borough

Copper Mine and Bitumen Exports Eye Port Mac

Mat-Su | Patty Sullivan | Wednesday, January 25, 2017

The company working on developing a very high grade copper mine near Ambler—Trilogy Metals—has designated Port MacKenzie—785 miles away—as its marine terminal for future copper concentrates, which are estimated to generate $10 million annually in revenues for the Alaska Railroad.

Another company that is trying to build a railroad from Alberta to Alaska—A2A Rail Development Corp.—has recently designated Port MacKenzie as the Alaska marine terminal for exports of one million barrels per day of bitumen, a dense form of petroleum.

Projections for possible freight to be exported and cargo to be imported on the future Port MacKenzie Railroad Extension can be found in a 62-page study by the McDowell Group called “Port MacKenzie Rail Freight Market Analysis.” Interviews with 41 subject experts, some of them key people in the industries of mining, oil and gas, forestry, construction, energy, and transportation, are sources in the analysis. Jim Calvin, Principal for McDowell, delivered a presentation on the study to the Matanuska-Susitna Borough Assembly and Mayor Tuesday night.

Construction of the 32-mile embankment for Port MacKenzie Rail is 2/3s complete. Track is on segment 6, which is a working siding near Houston operated by the Alaska Railroad. Construction crews were recently clearing trees on the last unfinished segment in the Point MacKenzie area. The $309 million project needs another $125 million for completion.

When connected by rail, Port MacKenzie is best located to serve Interior Alaska’s bullk commodities transportation needs with substantial advantages relative to any other port in Southcentral, Calvin told the Assembly.

Among the site advantages at Port MacKenzie:

• plenty of uplands, 9,033 acres

• deepest draft port in Alaska at -60 feet of water at mean lower low water

• 142-mile northern advantage over the region’s only other bulk export terminal (Seward)

• unencumbered access to the Interior

• wharfage and dockage rates significantly below rates of nearby ports

Read the analysis, which also includes development challenges, posted here. Listen to Calvin’s complete presentation here and read his Powerpoint presentation.

Large photo: Principal Jim Calvin of McDowell Group with coworker on a tour of the Port MacKenzie Rail embankment with Mat-Su Borough staff & Port Commission Chair, photographed at a small bridge in segment 1. Photo by Patty Sullivan/MSB. Second image posted here is Segment 6, a working siding near Houston, operated by the Alaska Railroad.

For more information contact Public Affairs Director Patty Sullivan at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 355-0103.



Jim Calvin presents overview on rail freight analysis


Working siding near Houston on segment 6 of Port MacKenzie Rail.