The Alaskan newspaper reported that “vendors” are saying the situation is so bad that an international black market is emerging, new trucks and earthmovers are being sold without tires, buyers are paying new-tire prices for retreads and some companies are buying used equipment just for the tires.
Brian Hewitt, manager of Tire Distribution Systems Inc. in Fairbanks, Alaska, was one of the vendors quoted. Hewitt told the paper that tires are going missing from shipments.
The newspaper also reported that Fort Knox, Alaska’s largest gold mine, is placing chains around the OTR tires on front-end loaders in an effort to protect the tires from rough surfaces and therefore prolong wear. Fort Knox’s operations manager told the newspaper the mine will aggressively focus on extending the life of every tire until the situation improves.
Additionally, the Usibelli coal mine in Healy, Alaska, is conducting more frequent air-pressure checks and tire rotations, and its road maintenance programs are becoming more aggressive.