The fight for Pebble Mine goes international this week with a delegation of Alaska Natives and commercial fishermen will fly to London next week to confront mining industry giant Anglo American at the company’s April 15th shareholders meeting with concerns about the massive Pebble mine project in the headwaters of Bristol Bay in southwest Alaska.
Some of the most productive salmon spawning rivers on Earth flow into Bristol Bay, which supports the world’s biggest commercial sockeye fishery . The Alaskans say the London-based company has failed to grasp the depth and breadth of the opposition to the Pebble mine, which would irreparably damage the salmon fishery and cultures that depend on it for survival.
The Pebble mine would be the largest open-pit copper and gold mine in North America, extending over 30 square miles of the Bristol Bay watershed. It would generate an estimated 9 billion tons of mine waste, much of it toxic. Called “tailings,” the crushed and chemically treated rock would be stored in “ponds” inundating two valleys and covering 12 square miles. Four huge earthen dams rivaling in height those of the tallest dams in the world would contain the waste, which would be stored on site forever in the same seismically active region that produced Mt. Redoubt.
Salmon are highly sensitive to pollution. Exposure to even miniscule amounts of copper and zinc, for example, hinders their ability to find their spawning grounds and identify predators.
The mine, located on state lands, would also suck up 70 million gallons of water daily from streams and rivers – three times the daily consumption of Anchorage, Alaska’s biggest city. To operate, the mine would require an estimated 600-700 megawatts of power, necessitating new generating capacity.
For these reasons, the Alaskans say Pebble mine poses unacceptable risks.
The delegation, which has requested a meeting with Anglo American CEO Cynthia Carroll, includes:
Thomas Tilden, Chief of the Curyung Tribal Council
Bobby Andrew, board member of Nunamta Aulukestai
Lydia Olympic, past president of the Igiugig Village Tribal Council
Everett Thompson, Naknek Family Fisheries, Naknek/Kvichak driftnetter
Peter Andrew, former president New Stuyahok Village Ltd. (not attending Anglo American shareholder meeting)
Their unprecedented trip follows a March visit to Alaska by Sir Mark Moody-Stuart , president of Anglo American’s board of directors, where he was greeted by protestors waving “Stop Cultural Genocide” and “No Pebble Mine” signs.
The Alaskans will also be attending the London premiere of the award-winning documentary “Red Gold, ” which tells the story of the people of Bristol Bay whose lives would be changed forever by the Pebble mine. Local Alaskans are hardly alone in their fight against Pebble mine.
Sport anglers , including English fishing celebrities Charles Jardine and Peter Cockwill , and more than 200 U.K. and U.S. outdoor product manufacturers, fishing lodges, angling and hunting clubs, do not want to see a massive open-pit gold and copper mine obliterate the trophy rainbow trout streams and world-renowned sockeye runs that draw anglers to the region from all over the world.
Even jewelry retailers, including Tiffany & Co. and Ben Bridge Jewelers among others, have pledged not to buy gold from the Pebble mine. About 80 percent of gold demand in the United States is for jewelry. Globally, jewelry accounts for about 68 percent of gold demand.
To follow the Alaskans’ progress on this remarkable trip , visit: where the Alaskans will share their experiences through blog posts, video and photos updated daily from London. The online newsroom includes fact sheets, expert contacts and downloadable photos and maps.