Wrong Mine, Wrong Place: Comment Before the Deadline
Some politicians are dancing around the Pebble Mine. There's nothing to dance about. While I can say the short truth – that this is the
wrong mine in the wrong place
– you might want some additional facts as you write your public comments. They are currently due by July 1. So far, our Congressional delegation and Governor have danced, saying they want the “permitting” process to decide whether this mine gets to endanger livelihoods, and kill fish in the world’s greatest remaining wild salmon and trout waters. They know that’s a political process, run by changing bureaucrats whose agendas move back and forth, and that risks approval this toxic open pit mine.
I’ve supported responsible mining in Alaska. But here are some reasons why I’ve always opposed Pebble, including the “latest plan” which is like the Titanic with smoke and mirrors. The chemical processing and on-site storage of 1.4 billion TONS of earth and toxic waste ore puts Bristol Bay, and the livelihoods and interests of the Bay’s residents (most of whom oppose it) at risk for generations.
That will be the most waste rock stored at any open pit mine in Alaska, and appears to be the most waste ore (definitely among the most) of any open pit mine in the United States. So what's at risk?
Last year 63 million wild salmon returned to Bristol Bay. The Nushugak River, which would be put at risk by a catastrophic spill, is home to Alaska's largest wild King Salmon returns.
Endless comparisons can be made to other mines, some that have had catastrophic failures after false promises of foolproof safeguards, and some that have not. But none of those are located by communities where the way of life is tied to the world's greatest wild salmon runs. Even if you didn't think this was the wrong mine in another area, it is in the
. The risks are too great.
Some Facts For You To Consider
: Currently the federal government is reviewing the deceptive Phase One of this project, which is the part closest to the surface. The mine application says the massive Phase One mine being applied for now would move 1.4 billion tons of ore and earth, with vastly more weight to be “held back” by dams as water is added to these tailings.
That is dangerous enough, but you should know it’s just the tip of the Titanic.
The CEO of the foreign mining corporation, Northern Dynasty, which runs the "Pebble Partnership", admitted at a 2019 investor conference that Pebble will be expanded far beyond Phase One's 1.4 billion ton waste ore project - after they get their nose under the tent.
Northern Dynasty's CEO called expansion of the mine after Phase 1 the "whole purpose" of this project at a February investor forum in Denver. That explains why Northern Dynasty lists the size of the mine with Canadian regulators at 11 billion tons of removed ore and earth, or eight times the size of this first phase project.
That would be the largest toxic open pit mine in North America.
But let's pretend what Pebble is pretending - that they just want the massive 1.4 billion ton Phase One project the Federal Government is being asked to consider.
Two toxic and potentially fallible tailings dams are proposed. That's where most of the removed earth and the toxic ore, plus tons of added water that will add stress to the "protective" dam walls, will be stored. Until they fail, as many expect, they'll "permanently" hold heavy concentrations of pyrite (which turns to sulfuric acid when exposed to air and water). The world has seen catastrophic dam breaches from smaller mines, without an earthquake. I'm not willing to risk the highest quality wild fisheries in the world with a larger dam in an earthquake-prone region. As the
reminds us, spills happen.
These toxic open, uncovered tailings dams will cover a massive 3,700 acre area.