Alaska Ad: First Quantum Was Right to Dump the Pebble Mine
Groups ran a full-page ad in the Anchorage Daily News today celebrating First Quantum Minerals’ departure from the controversial Pebble Mine—a colossal gold and copper mine proposed at the headwaters of Bristol Bay’s legendary salmon runs.
Signers of the ad represent the economic, cultural, and social foundations of Bristol Bay, as well as fishing, conservation and environmental groups.
The ad follows last month’s announcement from Northern Dynasty Minerals—now the sole “partner” left in the Pebble Limited Partnership— that the two companies were “unable to reach agreement on the option and partnership transaction” disclosed in December 2017. That “framework agreement” would have given First Quantum the option to partner in the project for $1.5 billion. Pursuant to that agreement, First Quantum had already invested $37.5 million towards permitting the project before walking away.
First Quantum’s departure leaves Northern Dynasty Minerals without the money or experience to advance the contentious Pebble Mine.
First Quantum walked away just weeks after its annual shareholder meeting, where a remarkable delegation representing Alaskan business leaders, Bristol Bay Tribes, commercial fishermen and conservation organizations delivered over 250,000 of petitions—100,000 from NRDC members and activists—urging First Quantum not to invest in the Pebble Mine.
Salmon are the economic, cultural, and ecological lifeblood of the region, supporting a $1.5 billion annual commercial fishery and 14,000 workers. Salmon also sustain the culture, tradition, and spirituality of native communities that have relied on subsistence fishing for thousands of years, and they are food to a vast array of wildlife, including bears, eagles, seals and whales.
The Pebble Mine would essentially pit this eternal supply of life-bringing food against an eternal supply of poisoned mining waste.
It is a terrible idea.
It is also a terrible investment, posing not only insurmountable environmental risks, but also economic, operational and legal risks.
First Quantum is not the first investor to walk away from the project. In fact, all of Pebble Mine’s major investors have walked away: Mitsubishi in 2011, Anglo American in 2013, Rio Tinto in 2014, and now First Quantum in 2018.
Reality, however, hasn’t deterred Northern Dynasty’s resolve to bulldoze ahead with the project.
Despite the lack of money—or, more important, the social license—to continue, Northern Dynasty is aggressively pushing its permit application with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Its most recent mine plan—which is constantly evolving and completely unsupported by environmental or economic data—would dump more than a billion tons of mining waste, devastate more than 3,000 acres of wetlands, and build large-scale transportation, port, pipeline and power facilities in an otherwise pristine watershed.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency already determined that a mine one-sixth of the size that Pebble is currently proposing would cause significant, and potentially catastrophic, harm.
So, we are fighting Pebble’s permit application. You can make your voice heard, too. Comments to the Army Corps are due by Friday, June 29th.