Archive for the ‘pebble mine’ Tag


Want to know what the EPA manipulation of the Pebble Mine permitting process has cost Alaska?

The Alaska Dispatch News ran a great article this weekend on it.

A year after Pebble, Iliamna Lake communities adjust to a new normal

Essentially, it’s gutted the economy of the area and left people who aren’t set netters or trawlers without any future.

Way to go, EPA and the Greenpeace-funded Bristol Bay Forever crowd.

State of Alaska — what are you going to do about it?



Pebble suing EPA over steps that could bar mine   Leave a comment

Pebble suing EPA over steps that could bar mine – Fairbanks Daily News-Miner: Alaska News.

The saga continues ….

Nobody is talking about developing an unsafe mine. All of us what a mine that is safe for the environment, but the environmentalists are insisting that the mine must be absolutely safe with no impacts on the environment at all.

Extremism is no way to run a government agency and the EPA is in thrall to the extremists.

Posted May 22, 2014 by aurorawatcherak in Alaska

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Pebble cites EPA emails in claim assessment was biased – Alaska Journal of Commerce – May Issue 3 2014 – Anchorage, AK   Leave a comment

Pebble cites EPA emails in claim assessment was biased – Alaska Journal of Commerce – May Issue 3 2014 – Anchorage, AK.

For the record, I support Bristol Bay fishing as well as Pebble Mine. I do not believe they are mutually exclusive. Until the full environmental assessment is done on Pebble there is no reason to suppose that the mine is a danger to the fishery. The end of this article tries to boost the value of the Bristol Bay fishery. I do not argue with the numbers, but add to them so that readers can understand why Alaskans should support Pebble and not be in a lather about Bristol Bay fishing. It does not provide that many jobs for Alaskans. The majority of the permits are let to West Coast outfits.

From the 2013 Bristol Bay Economic Report, authored by the Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska-Anchorage:

  • About one-third of Bristol Bay fishermen and two-thirds of Bristol Bay processing workers live in West Coast states (not Alaska).
  • Almost all major Bristol Bay processing companies are based in Seattle (not Alaska).
  • Most of the supplies and services used in fishing and processing are purchased in Washington state (not Alaska).
  • Significant secondary processing of Bristol Bay salmon products occurs in Washington and Oregon (not Alaska).

There are about 3000 seasonal jobs created in Alaska by the Bristol Bay fisheries. Unfortunately, many of these workers are from other states because the Seattle-based boat captains and processors put the call out at the University of Washington rather than University of Alaska-Fairbanks. I tried for three years in a row to get a job on a processor back in college and never even got a call back. Meanwhile, I had three cousins out of Seattle working in Bethel. My daughter tried a couple of years ago and was told by State employment that she had to go to a website and compete with out-of-state workers.

There will be at least 1000 year-round  jobs created in Alaska by Pebble. Year-round means Alaskan-based. Alaskan-based workers spend their money in Alaska, not Seattle.

Point-Counterpoint: Murkowski wrong to take on EPA over Pebble   Leave a comment

Also from the Anchorage Daily News.

Chip Treinen makes some salient points, but what he fails to understand is that the regulatory process is already so enthrall to the special-interest evironmental groups that it has refused to even employ the regulatory process and allow Pebble Mine a fair science-based hearing in a neutral system.

Point-Counterpoint: Murkowski right to take on EPA   Leave a comment

From the Anchorage Daily News

I’m not a fan of Princess (Senator) Lisa Murkowski, but she’s been doing the right thing on these issues.

Company Pulls Out of Alaska’s Pebble Mine   Leave a comment

And gives its stock to two opponents of the mine…?

When I see something like this, it makes me go “hmmm????” There’s something about the EPA’s jumping the gun on the environmental report and this latest piece that just smells of manipulation. The question is … why?

Knowing the history of Alaska as I do, I suspect it is more American colonialism. Alaska is being spun in circles like the banana republics of old. Pebble will be developed eventually, but watch … the federal government and the Native corporations will benefit, not the people of Alaska.

In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if the opposition to Pebble was always about Bristol Bay Native Corporation wanting a piece of the action.

— Global mining giant Rio Tinto is pulling out of the Pebble Mine project in Alaska, the latest blow to the controversial plan to build an open pit mine in the best wild salmon stronghold in the world.

Rio Tinto said Monday that it will donate its 19 percent share in the project to a pair of Alaskan charities, the Alaska Community Foundation and the Bristol Bay Native Corporation Education Foundation.

Rio Tinto’s decision comes as after the Environmental Protection Agency last month moved closer to blocking the mine. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said the mine would “likely have significant and irreversible negative impacts on the salmon of Bristol Bay. She said her agency would decide on action to protect the salmon under the Clean Water Act, which could lead to a veto of the project.

The British mining powerhouse Anglo American pulled out of the Pebble project last year and now Rio Tinto is abandoning it as well. The company said Monday that “the Pebble Project does not fit with Rio Tinto’s strategy.”

“By giving our shares to two respected Alaskan charities, we are ensuring that Alaskans will have a say in Pebble’s future development,” Rio Tinto Copper Chief Executive Jean-Sebastien Jacques said in a written statement.

The Bristol Bay Native Corporation Education Foundation said in statement that “Rio Tinto’s gift will benefit organizations that serve the people and communities of Alaska.”

Executive Director Greta Goto said the shares would help the foundation to support educational opportunities for shareholders in the Bristol Bay Native Corporation.

The Bristol Bay Native Corporation, though, has been among the most outspoken opponents of the mine.

“This gift provides an example of what open discussion and relationship building between stakeholders with differing views can accomplish,” said Bristol Bay Native Corp. President Jason Metrokin. “However, BBNC’s opposition to the proposed Pebble mine has not changed.”

A representative of the Alaska Community Foundation did not have an immediate response to the gift.

The Pebble mine ranks among the largest copper undeveloped copper deposits in the world. Project developer Northern Dynasty Minerals is vowing to push on despite the controversies and continual setbacks.

The pullout of Anglo American left Northern Dynasty without a needed partner to bankroll the development of the mine. Northern Dynasty is continuing to search for a new partner, and said it will work with the Alaskan charities that are now stakeholders.

“We look forward to meeting with the leadership of the Alaska Community Foundation and Bristol Bay Native Corporation Education Foundation in the days ahead to better understand their long-term goals and aspirations, and how their ownership interest in Northern Dynasty and the Pebble Project can make the greatest possible contribution to the people and communities they serve,” Northern Dynasty President Ron Thiessen said in a written statement.

Email:; Twitter: @seancockerham.

Considering Pebble Mine   Leave a comment

Let’s remember that the mine report is not yet completed or submitted and no application for permit has been filed, but that the EPA has already published its “final” report on the subject insisting that mining anywhere near Bristol Bay is just too dangerous to contemplate. Pay no attention to the science or the safeguards that will be employed. We’re going to make up our minds before we have any actual evidence to the contrary.

So, this is my thought on that subject.

1 Bumper Sticker Mining

Go on! Do an inventory of everything you use every day and prove me wrong!

Please kindly remember all the minerals that went into building the computer you are reading this on.

Mining NIMBY   2 comments

I ran across this post online from Tucson Here is someone saying what I’m saying from a different part of the country. Instead of Alaskans for Responsible Mining, it’s the Save the Scenic Santa Ritas opposing a mine while pretending to support mining. 


Mining and You by David F. Briggs

The Decision We Make on the Rosemont Copper Project will have National Implications

In presenting their arguments to the citizens of southeastern Arizona, Save the Scenic Santa Ritas and others opposed to the Rosemont Copper project have attempted to portray it as a local issue. If I heard it once, I’d heard a million times; “We are not opposed to mining, but we are opposed to this mine.  There’s no shortage of copper.  We can always get the copper from somewhere else.  There will be no significant impacts if this project is not developed.”

And then there are Resolution Copper’s project near Superior, Curis Resources’ project at Florence, Northern Dynasty’s Pebble project in Alaska and countless others.  Like Rosemont Copper, they are also opposed by local groups, whose members benefit from the products made from raw materials derived from mining, but don’t want mining projects near their communities.

However, mining projects are not the only types of projects that have been opposed by local groups throughout our nation.  Others include electrical transmission lines, oil and gas pipelines, coal-fired power plants, highways, landfills and many others.  They are all opposed by groups, whose arguments are similar to those being used against the Rosemont Copper project.

The bottom line is, everywhere there is a proposal to develop a new project in this nation, it encounters opposition like we are now experiencing in our community.

The cumulative impact of the anti-mining foes’ strategy of using local issues as justification to deny individual mining projects in America on a case by case basis seriously undermines our ability to supply the products we require to ensure our national security and to maintain and improve our infrastructure and standard of living.  It also results in our increased dependence on foreign sources for the goods we consume; increasing our unsustainable trade deficits and leaving our national security needs vulnerable to decisions made by foreign governments.

The proposed Rosemont Copper project is not just a local issue.  It is a national issue, which involves land use, water, development of our natural resources, our national economy and how this nation is going to confront the environmental challenges of the 21st century.  The decisions we make here will have profound national implications.

If Rosemont Copper is not allowed to develop a modern, state-of-the-art mining operation in a known historical mining district, where can we develop the new mining projects that will be required to supply the needs of future generations of Americans?

If opponents are able to halt Rosemont Copper’s efforts to develop this 21st century project, it will place all the future projects that benefit society in jeopardy.  Large projects that have been shown to be in compliance with all of the regulatory standards set forth by our laws must be allowed to proceed.  Without this assurance, no one will invest the huge amounts of capital required to permit these projects.  The risks are simply too great.

The Rosemont Copper project must not be denied an opportunity to proceed.  That is a line in the sand that must not be crossed.  Our nation’s future and that of future generations of Americans will depend on the decisions that are made on this controversial project.


David F. Briggs is a resident of Pima county and a geologist, who has intermittently worked on the Rosemont Copper project since 2006.  The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Rosemont Copper.

Copyright (2013) by David F. Briggs.  Reprint is permitted only if the credit of authorship is provided and linked back to the source.

Pebble Economic Analysis   1 comment

The proposed Pebble copper/gold mine near Iliamna is very controversial and is emblematic of what Alaska faces in trying to develop our resources and a grown-up economy like the rest of the states. There’s plenty of fear-mongering about the watershed and some of it is valid. It’s a seismically active area, but Fort Knox – an active gold mine in the Fairbanks area – is also in a seismically active area. The containment dam there held up just fine during the 7.9 magnitude Denali Quake in 2002. The engineering exists to overcome the seismic risks. The Pebble Partnership continues to conduct actual scientific studies in advance of filing an environmental impact statement, but the EPA has already issued a ruling, based on a historical analysis of mining history around the world rather than the real-life current proposed project, that indicates Pebble hasn’t got a snow ball’s chance in hell of even getting a fair hearing before permitting.

If built, Pebble would generate substantial employment in Alaska and revenues to the local, state and federal governments, according to an economic analysis of the proposed mine by IHS Global Insight, an Englewood, Colo. consulting firm.

The study was done by IHS for the Pebble Limited Partnership, the consortium of Anglo American and Northern Dynasty Minerals working on development of the mine, so of course, the environmentalists and NIMBY/BANANAs will insist that it’s not a valid study.

IHS estimated that the mine would pay between $136 million and $180 million in annual state taxes and mining royalties, or $3.4 – 4.5 billion over the first 25 years of its operating life. Clearly, the State of Alaska cannot be trusted to permit the mine because their loyalty can be bought.

In addition, $29 – 33 million in annual revenues, or $725 – 825 million over 25 years, would be paid to the Lake and Peninsula Borough, the regional municipal government that includes the area proposed for the mine. Obviously, they’re bias by the money in favor of the mine too – well, actually …

Payments to the federal government are estimated to $340 – 395 million per year, or $8.5 – 9.9 billion over 25 years. I’m not sure why the federal government is able to resist the bribery of tax dollars, but apparently the EPA is.

Expected employment impacts were also estimated in the IHS report.

Construction will generate about 4,700 direct and indirect jobs in the state, and the 25-year initial production phase would employ about 2,900. That’s significantly larger than what the Pebble Partnership has been advertising.

Direct jobs at the mine would total about 700 in the first four years of production and would increase each year to 1,000 by the 15th year of production. The indirect jobs, mainly with suppliers, would total about 650 in the first four years and increase to 875 by the 15th year. Jobs at the mine will be high-paying, averaging about $109,500.

The study estimates that 75 percent of the workforce would be Alaska resident, a number typical of other major resource extraction projects in the state.

Mining activity would boost the economy of the Lake and Peninsula Borough and help sustain small villages in the region. Ventura Samaniego, CEO of Kijik Corp., the village corporation of Nondalton, told the authors of the report that the lack of a regional economy is resulting in severe losses of population.

“The Nondalton population declined by 26 percent between 2000 and 2010. Approximately half of Kijik Corp’s shareholders now live in Anchorage,” Samaniego told the report authors.

Existing jobs across all of southwest Alaska are mostly provided by government. The IHS report referenced the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development’s study, “Workforce Analysis for Southwest Alaska’s Large Mines” reported that school districts and local city, borough and tribal now provide 40% of the jobs in the region,” the labor department report said.

And yet the Kijik Corporation has taken a stand against Pebble as has the Bristol Bay Native Corporation. They don’t see a reason to employ people at the mine because they already have jobs in government as well as highly-lucrative jobs as setnetters in the Iliamna watershed and they fear the loss of the setnetting if the containment dam leaks, but they also have no will for employment because the government pays for a great deal of their support through Bureau of Indian Affairs monies and State of Alaska programs.

Moreover, like all of our Native corporations, Kijik and Bristol Bay Native Corps have become business entities. That’s fine. That’s what they were intended to do so that eventually the Native peoples of Alaska would become self-supporting. We’re still waiting. These corporations compete with non-Native companies for projects all of the state. Pebble is on state land, so Anglo American and Northern Dynasty Minerals got the contract for the exploration, but you can bet Kijik and Bristol are wishing they did. Red Dog has been very lucrative for NANA Corp. If the Pebble Partnership comes to a point where they cannot get permitting, they will drop the lease and I expect Kijik, Bristol, and possibly NANA and CIRI to go for the lease after a decent period of time. Suddenly the Natives of Bristol Bay will be all for gold and lead mines in the watershed and absolutely certain it can be done without any risk to the salmon. Why do I think that? That’s the history of Red Dog. It never would have been developed if NANA hadn’t been able to profit from it.

But, of course, we’re not supposed to talk about how the Native corporations use their stakeholders to racket up the price of projects, drive the non-Natives out, and then they come in and joint venture or wholly own and make a mint … with the full support of the Native community. We’re supposed to not notice what is right before our eyes.

Ultimately, this decision should not be made emotionally, but scientifically and with application of a cost-benefit analysis. We have got to get away from this idea that we can do absolutely nothing without absolute assurance that nothing bad will happen. The world is not a perfect place. In this imperfect world, we make progress through risk. We don’t carelessly dump poisonous chemicals into the watershed of the richest salmon fishery in the world, but we cautiously engineer so that won’t happen, knowing that there may be a small chance of failure.

Why is this such a difficult concept?


Balancing Pebble   Leave a comment

I am not a mining engineer, though I have worked with civil engineers for over a year now and have discovered that they are very careful people who value precision and redundancy. Ultimately, I’m merely an interested observer who wants Alaska to have enough jobs in the future so that my children don’t have to move to the Lower 48. I believe that Alaska can handle developing our resources without destroying the environment. We live here because we love the forests, mountains, animals and solitude, but in order to live here, Alaska must have an economy that will support a decent lifestyle. I love salmon and I want any proposed project to protect the salmon resources, but I also believe that there is no such thing as “no risk” and that if we take the Precautionary Principle to that level we’re going to kill any hope of any development in Alaska and my children will be living in a high-rise tower city in the Lower 48, getting their “green” from house plants rather than the wilderness.

To me, that is self-imposed tyranny and it’s where we’re headed if we don’t get real-world woke up in the near future.

You can find an awful lot of extremism on the Internet, especially revolving around Pebble Mine. There’s a lot of reactionary, non-factual opinion out there. I set out to provide a balanced discussion of the issue, but am rapidly coming to the conclusion that balanced does exist with Pebble. Except ….

Jack Caldwell is a civil engineer who blogs at Over the years he has waded into the Pebble Mine controversy from time to time. He is not involved in the mine in any way. He is just an interested, educated observer who was involved in development of the Greens Creek prospect and personally knows experts in the field, some of whom are involved directly in the Pebble Project.  His opinion has shifted and evolved over the years – kind of like my own. So, most of this post is based on his observations.

Pebble came to public attention with a bang in 2007. The prospect had been around for a while (about 20 years), but it entered the mainstream media as a controversy between the Renewable Resources Coalition (a coalition of Outside environmental groups and an Alaskan millionaire) and the citizens group Truth about Pebble (a coalition of Alaskan mining interests and Native corporations). A lot of rhetoric was thrown about and people set their opinion on talking points for or against, with little or no consideration for actual facts.

One of the issues that has been used to stoke controversy is the investment in Pebble by the mining giant Anglo American. Founded by British industrialist Ernest Oppenheimer and American bank JP Morgan, in 1917, it started operations in South Africa and its corporate headquarters are currently in Canada.  Jack Caldwell grew up in South Africa as a young man when his father worked for a competitor. Mining kept his family from poverty, sent him to college and eventually brought him to Canada. Anglo American stood out in his memory as a progressive mining company that used its political clout the betterment of the areas surrounding its mines. It resisted apartheid in South Africa and has heavily funded HIV/AIDS testing and counseling in Africa, for example. The company, a member of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, has committed support to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative which works to strengthen governance by improving transparency and accountability in the mining sector. Anglo American’s corporate toolkit to manage the social aspects of its operations is in the public domain for non-profit use and has been commended by the UN Development Programme.

“For as long as I can remember, Anglo American has mined in repressive places and has tried to use its mining and financial clout to improve the lot of the country’s dispossessed.  I recall they were always at the forefront in South Africa of bold and brave calls for better treatment of the Blacks, for opening the economy to others, and to development to benefit the masses—and themselves of course.”

Part of the problem surrounding Pebble may very well be the divide that separates America. Either you believe development can be done in a sensible and mostly safe manner with acceptable risks or you think American mining in the 21st century is going to be done the way mining was done 100 years ago. You’re either for it or against it. The middle ground is a no-man’s land because anyone who says there’s a middle way is immediately shouted down and accused of “not understanding the issues”. Bull!

I appreciated Mr. Caldwell’s perspective because he goes back and forth between thinking Pebble might be a workable project to thinking that it won’t be and examines some of the problems that will be encountered in its development WITHOUT taking a sky-is-falling attitude.

Alaska has a strong mining regulatory regime and as much as I’ve protested the administrative state on my blog, I largely agree with what Alaska has put in place because mining is hard on the environment.

Alaska large mine permitting process:

Alaska is not Africa or South America or even the Lower 48. As my previous article on Alaska mining regulation explained, we have the good fortune to live in a time of modern mining science and technology. The regulators here are to be congratulated for making the process clear, though far from simple.

Large mines typically require dozens of permits from state, federal, and local government agencies. Depending on the size and nature of the mine, the permitting process may be extremely complex. For this reason, the Department of Natural Resources coordinates the process with an interagency team of experts in mine design and closure. The team reviews applications for the construction and operation of the mine by meeting state water quality standards, environmental monitoring requirements, and site closure. In order to address these issues, the team must understand the chemistry of the mine’s ore, waste rock, and tailings. The process provides a model for efficient permitting and environmental protection.

This is not to say there are no risks to mining, but with proper planning and modern technology, there is no reason to stop the research that will determine if Pebble can be done safely or not.

“The Pebble Mine in Alaska is contentious.  It is at the center of an almighty battle between opposing forces in a conflicted state.  It may well define the future of mining in North America for the remainder of this century.  But the battle has only just begun, and its outcome is impossible to predict.” Caldwell

And that is the point. Historically, mining has a rough image and that is deserved. The Fox tailings north of Fairbanks remind me that mining done badly is an environmental disaster. But much has changed in the world of mining in the 50 years since Gold Dredge #8 shut down. Ft. Knox, Greens Creek, Red Dog – all are operating and proving that mining under State of Alaska scrutiny can be done safely.

That doesn’t mean that the Pebble Limited Partnership should be allowed to forge forward and start mining tomorrow, but that’s not the plan anyway. They are doing the science prior to applying for permits. When they do, the State of Alaska will review that science and make a determination. SOA may come back and require more science. It will require bonding for the future. And, then – and ONLY THEN – does the EPA have a say in the future of Pebble? And, their decision should be based on SCIENCE. Their current report is a POLITICAL document.

Why is the possibility of a gold mine so threatening that it can’t even be discussed and studied without people losing their minds over it?

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