The global mining firm Rio Tinto announced Monday that it will divest its 19 percent stake in the controversial Pebble Mine project in Alaska, donating its shares to two state charities.
The decision is the latest blow to the proposed gold, copper and molybdenum mine, which is under federal scrutiny for how it could affect the nearby Bristol Bay watershed, which supports nearly half the world’s sockeye salmon. In late February the Environmental Protection Agency announced it would invoke its authority under the Clean Water Act and consider blocking the mine, effectively halting the project.
Rio Tinto Copper chief executive Jean-Sebastien Jacques, whose company started reviewing its investment in the Pebble Partnership in December, said it would donate its investment in Northern Dynasty Minerals to the Alaska Community Foundation and the Bristol Bay Native Corporation Education Foundation.
Jacques said his company continues "to see Alaska as an attractive location for potential future investment," adding that by divvying up the shares it will guarantee "that Alaskans will have a say in Pebble's future development and that any economic benefit supports Alaska's ability to attract investment that creates jobs."