Far removed from the hustle and bustle of modern society lies one of America's most hotly contested mining projects. The proposed Pebble Mine in the Bristol Bay region of Southwest Alaska is thought to hold more than $300 billion in precious metal deposits including copper, gold and molybdenum. That's huge: An operational mine there would boost overall U.S. copper production by 20 percent.
The problem is that those riches are located right at the headwaters of the rivers flowing into the world's most productive salmon fishery.
It's this crossroad between the environment and commerce that has sparked a fierce debate that has caused one of the proposed mine's main investors to back out of the project.
A Mine-Blowing Decision
Bowing to pressure as well as its own financial issues, London-based Anglo American has decided to walk away from the project. With that decision, the company is leaving behind the more than half a billion dollars it had already sunk into the mine's development. Not only that, but it's walking away from a mining deposit of "rare magnitude and quality," according to CEO Mark Cutifani.
It's a big blow to the mine's future, as Anglo American had owned 50 percent of the project and was its main financial backer, with the much smaller Vancouver-based Northern Dynasty Minerals owning the other half of the project.