Yesterday, international mining company Anglo American made a $300 million statement: We want out of Pebble Mine.
This is big news for the anti-Pebble campaign, the focus of which is safeguarding the world's largest sockeye salmon from the potentially irretrievable damage of mining byproduct.
However, we must also recognize that it is not necessarily the death knell for the mine, as some assume a loss of partnership for Northern Dynasty would imply.
Anglo American is out of the Pebble Partnership, yes. It paid a $300 million fine to withdraw (on top of losing its shared costs of the $500 million investment to date), which is a significant statement to any potential replacement partner, yes. But there is still the matter of a vast deposit of copper, gold and molybdenum in the soil that surrounds Bristol Bay.
"This is a good day for Bristol Bay," said Bob Waldrop, executive director of the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association. "But it's important for our members to understand that Anglo's former partner, Northern Dynasty, is still in business and will continue to aggressively pursue the Pebble project."
Let's not forget that someone stands to make billions on this mine, and Alaska's political leadership is either supportive or not vocally unsupportive.
Two rounds of public comments on the Environmental Protection Agency's assessment of the mine resulted in more than 650,000 public comments opposed to the mine, an overwhelming majority.
That's a lot of people power. But I also understand the pull of precious metals. This is the time to get serious about ending the campaign to turn Bristol Bay into mining dust.
If you're planning to attend Pacific Marine Expo in Seattle, please join us for a conference that I hope will lead the way to a Pebble-free future on Wednesday, Nov. 20, at Century Link Field Event Center.
East Coasters have an opportunity to hear Commercial Fishermen for Bristol Bay representative Brett Veerhusen speak at the Boston Seafood Festival on Saturday, Sept. 28. He will also be manning a CFBB booth there.
On Oct. 9, CFBB's Ben Blakey and Ocean Beauty CEO Mark Palmer will address the Northwest Fisheries Association meeting in Seattle.