Perspectives from the Mining Industry

There is a vast and undisputed mineralogical wealth available in the Bristol Bay region of Alaska. The “Pebble Deposit” exists near the Kvichak and Nushagak Rivers, two of eight primary tributaries feeding the Bristol Bay water supply. The deposits are of gold, copper, and molybdemum, and weigh about 4.1 billion tons. They would likely be mined by conventional open pit methods, in potentially one of the world’s largest mines. The value is estimated at $300 billion, next to the $500 million net worth of the salmon industry in Bristol Bay.

Pebble Mine Infographic

Infographic developed by the PLP

While many environmentalists question the safety of the operation, the industry provides strong points, and demonstrates an attitude willing to accept both compromise and responsibility. The Pebble Limited Partnership (PLC), a partnership of Anglo American (British) and Northern Dynasty (Canadian), is a group of mining corporations considering and advocating the project. Despite the potential risks of environmental pollution, the PLC emphasizes a new respect for safety, as well as the various benefits of utilizing the Pebble deposits.

While the Pebble mine presents environmental threats, it also provides serious stimulus to the economy, both through taxes and jobs, which are currently of low availability. The PCC also emphasizes, in it’s statement of values, to prioritize planning and accurate modelling before action. In the past, environmental damage to watersheds from open pit mining has primarily been the result of archaic regulation standards and ideas. The mine itself is still only in planning phases, and until it is fully designed, it is impossible to accurately critique the environmental threats and hazards it may pose to native Alaskans, as well as the global salmon supply. Continued communication and cooperation between the mining industry, government environmental agencies, and NGO’s during the planning of this project is a key piece to the successful decision making process, regarding the creation of the Pebble Mine, as well as it’s extent and responsibilities.



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