When Zale Corp., the nation’s second largest retail jeweler, announced this week that it would boycott minerals produced at the proposed Pebble Mine, the reaction of Pebble Partnership CEO John Shively was telling: “Big deal,” he said, meaning, of course, that it was no such thing.
Actually, it is a big deal.
Zale is a major player in the global jewelry industry – a sector not generally known for biting the hand that feeds it – that is, mining companies. But in the case of Pebble, Zale is just the latest in a growing list of jewelers – now more than 30 companies, including Tiffany’s – who have decided Pebble is the kind of mining proposal that gives responsible mining a bad name. Because the mine is to be sited up the watershed that feeds Bristol Bay – near Lake Iliamna, the largest fresh water body in all of Alaska -- this mega-mine would endanger one of the most productive salmon fisheries in the world and everything that depends on it, from Native communities to commercial and recreational fisheries to wildlife species, both marine and terrestrial. It makes no sense to gamble with an existing renewable resource like Alaska’s incomparable salmon fishery – a resource that generates an estimated $400 million each year and thousands of jobs for Alaskans – in favor of a mining scheme devised by a consortium of foreign mining companies who would enrich themselves even if it means risking the livelihood of Bristol Bay residents.
Zale’s announcement is important, although Mr. Shively may not want to admit it, because of the signal it sends to potential investors, to elected officials, and to the public generally. There is a growing tide of broad-based opposition to the Pebble Mine, and it should be abandoned – now.
Please take a moment to sign our petition opposing Pebble Mine. NRDC and Native Alaskans will deliver the petition to the British mining giant Anglo American, one of the Pebble Partners, next week in London, when its shareholders will meet on Earth Day.