ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Utah's biggest and best known mine has become a debating point in an environmental fight concerning a huge Alaska project known as the Pebble Mine.
Rio Tinto is a partner in the proposed mine that would be just as big as Kennecott's Bingham Canyon Mine and brings with it the promise of mining riches for the company and the Alaskan economy
"Oh, yeah, it's a world-class prospect," said John Shively, CEO of the Pebble Limited Partnership, which is battling to get the Pebble Mine approved in an area of Southwest Alaska known as Bristol Bay.
"It's one of the largest copper prospects in the world. It's one of the largest gold prospects. So it's large, there's no question about it."
But Native Alaskan Petla Noden of the Curyung Tribe said Kennecott's mine in Utah, with its history of groundwater contamination, is an example of what could happen in Alaska.
"I don't want that in Bristol Bay," Noden said. "I think people, when they think about Alaska, they want to come and they want to experience the pristine nature and the wildlife and not some big hole and toxic waste."