Pebble Limited Partnership announced this week that the company is teaming up with AES Regulatory and Technical Services to increase contracting opportunities for Alaska Native village corporations located near the controversial Pebble Mine project site in Bristol Bay.

"We have long believed that native corporations, their shareholders and other residents of Southwest Alaska must be directly involved with and benefit directly from development of the pebble project," said Pebble CEO Tom Collier in a press release, according to KTUU News.

AES is a subsidiary of Arctic Slope Regional Corp., which works in Alaska’s remote arctic and subarctic environments on permitting, regulatory compliance and stakeholder engagement, and would be responsible for making sure native corporations are involved in the planning of the mine project.

Bristol Bay Native Corp. responded to the new partnership in its own release calling it “another unfortunate example of PLP’s efforts to misrepresent the opinions of the people of the Bristol Bay region.”

The Bristol Bay Native wrote that Arctic Slope Regional represents an area of Alaska that is nearly 1,000 miles from Bristol Bay and should have absolutely no participation in the mine development.

“Kings recently arrived in Bristol Bay. With the arrival of those fish, the people of the region anxiously await another commercial and subsistence fishing season. Our lives and livelihood are based on fishing. We will not allow our economy and culture to be displaced by foreign mining interests. We are and will always be Fish First,” said Joseph L. Chythlook, chairman of the Bristol Bay Native Corp.’s board of directors.

Activity in moving the Pebble Mine project forward and opposition from the fishing industry has been renewed this year after the the Environmental Protection Agency signed an agreement to begin withdrawing proposed restrictions on development in Alaska’s Bristol Bay watershed. The agreement is contained in a court settlement with the Pebble Limited Partnership, which sued the EPA, charging it had colluded with opponents of the mine. As a result, the Pebble Partnership can begin an application process that draw out the decade-plus fight for many more years.

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Samuel Hill is the former associate editor for National Fisherman. He is a graduate of the University of Southern Maine where he got his start in journalism at the campus’ newspaper, the Free Press. He has also written for the Bangor Daily News, the Outline, Motherboard and other publications about technology and culture.

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