The Colorado-based Keystone Center today held a symposium on “responsible mining” as part of its dialogue process sponsored by developers of the Pebble Mine in southwest Alaska – a proposal to build one of the world’s largest gold and copper mines at the headwaters of Bristol Bay’s incomparable wild salmon fishery. Because of its location and enormous scale, the proposed mine threatens to contaminate the Bristol Bay watershed, destroy the $445 million per year fisheries economy of the region (and thousands of jobs), and devastate the subsistence harvest, while enriching the foreign mining companies behind the unprecedented mining project.
The Keystone Center’s dialogue process can’t alter the fact that the Bristol Bay watershed is the wrong place for large-scale metallic sulfide mining. Because of its unacceptable location, the Pebble Mine is, by definition, “irresponsible large-scale mining,” and by overwhelming numbers – more than 80 percent according to recent polls -- the residents of Bristol Bay agree.
Keystone’s dialogue can’t alter the fact that the Pebble Mine is fundamentally flawed, because it would unavoidably put at risk resources we can’t afford to lose. Alaska’s wild salmon fishery must be protected – period.
Keystone’s dialogue can’t alter the fact that there are some ideas too dangerous to entertain. This reckless scheme by foreign mining companies -- to generate and store in perpetuity billions of tons of mining waste, laced with toxic chemicals, at the headwaters of the Bristol Bay watershed -- is one of them.
Keystone should have refused the Pebble Partnership’s invitation to develop a “realistic mining scenario” at Pebble. If its hard-earned credibility is its capital, Keystone’s association with the developers of the Pebble Mine may prove to have been a very bad investment.