News that mining giant Anglo-American plans to withdraw from the Pebble Mine project was greeted with joy by opponents who hailed it as a victory for the people of Bristol Bay and for the region’s resources.
Pebble would be the largest gold and copper mine in North America, and its location looms over the world’s biggest sockeye salmon fishery at Bristol Bay. But even though London-based Anglo has pulled out of the Pebble Partnership, Northern Dynasty Minerals of Canada still remains. And they insist the project is still very much alive.
“This does not eliminate development of Pebble Mine,” said Bob Waldrop, director of the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association that is funded and operated by more than 1,800 salmon fishermen. “This just means we’re back to Northern Dynasty, which is where we were before Anglo came in several years ago. Northern Dynasty will shop around and in all likelihood will find another partner. So we are not going to rest on this news.”
Northern Dynasty, which in 2001 launched the Pebble project, takes over sole ownership of all the mining claims. Unlike Anglo American, which is one of the world’s biggest mining companies, Northern Dynasty has never operated a mine.
The Pebble Partnership had announced its release of a mine plan by year’s end, with a goal of beginning permitting shortly after. The timeline could change, but the project will proceed, said Sean McGee, Northern Dynasty’s vice president of Public Affairs. The company has the financial ability to get the project through the next step of seeking state and federal permits, he said.
“Nothing has changed in terms of the mineral resource and the asset that exists in Southwest Alaska,” McGee told KDLG in Dillingham.“Pebble remains one of the most important undeveloped mineral resources in the world, with the potential to facilitate very significant capital investment and economic growth through decades. It needs to be developed right, and that means in a way that is acceptable and beneficial to the local people, and in a way that protects the fish and waters of the region. But there is tremendous potential and the corporate changes really don’t shake our confidence in the potential of the deposit whatsoever.”
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