“...The cost of power, port, access, and labor is prohibitive, water management is a nightmare, and when all that is combined with a very low grade deposit, it isn't viable - even when gold and copper were at record highs.”

- Mining consultant and former Cominco environmental-affairs director Bruce Switzer, Alaska Dispatch News, October 1, 2014

Wrong Mine, Wrong Place

The Pebble Mine project is a proposed open pit gold and copper mine that would operate just upstream from Bristol Bay.  Mines like this one have a long track record of polluting nearby waters with tailings, acid mine drainage, and other mining by-products. And recent history has shown that mining infrastructure can fail.  In 2014, Mount Polley Mine's dam breached and released over 25 million cubic meters of toxic mining waste into British Columbia’s Fraser River; the same company that designed the Mount Polley dam has been working on the Pebble Mine.  There is no reason to believe that the Pebble Mine would be any safer or more environmentally friendly than others that have come before it. 

Polluting the waters of Bristol Bay would have devastating consequences not just for the environment, but for the multitude of businesses that rely on the productivity and health of the Bristol Bay watershed. In the EPA’s 2014 Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment, it is scientifically documented that mine waste released into Bristol Bay’s headwaters would have a negative impact on the quality of the water in the Bay and could impact the Bay’s salmon population significantly. Currently, those salmon generate over $2.2 billion in economic activity - all of which would be jeopardized by the proposed Pebble Mine. 

While the Pebble deposit is claimed to be one of the largest and most valuable of its kind, there has been much discussion and controversy within the mining industry around the Pebble Mine’s true capital and operating costs.  These concerns have resulted in multiple mining companies walking away and divesting from the Pebble Mine, leaving junior mining company Northern Dynasty as the sole investor in the Pebble Partnership.  Even Anglo American - one of the world’s largest mining companies - backed out and concluded that “the Pebble project was so unlikely to earn its cost of capital that it wasn’t worth trying,” (Kerrisdale Capital Management).  After years of considering a range of mining plans and scenarios, Anglo and third-party engineers found that “Pebble's upfront capital costs would be more than 100% higher than what Northern Dynasty has suggested, while operating costs would be roughly 20% higher” and that Pebble’s net present value was negative (Kerrisdale Capital Management).  

In October 2017, Pebble Partnership's CEO Tom Collier presented new plans outlining a much smaller mine plan than what they had been originally proposing.  While the smaller mine would mean reduced direct loss of salmon habitat in Bristol Bay, the energy and transportation infrastructure required to operate a smaller mine in Bristol Bay makes the Pebble Mine even less economically viable.  

These economic concerns and doubts about Pebble’s viability and true costs only underscore the need for America’s business community to protect the Bristol Bay watershed from the proposed Pebble Mine and ensure that bad business does not jeopardize this irreplaceable ecosystem and economic engine.  Bristol Bay is a proven model of responsible management and resource development, and if protected will continue to generate billions in economic activity, provide American jobs, and supply a sustainable source of wild seafood to the world.

To join other businesses that are committed to protecting Bristol Bay from irresponsible development, sign here.