How Pebble Mine Hurts America: Action Required by June 30th

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Photo Dan Frasier

By Dan Frasier

We have until June 30th 2019 to speak out against the Pebble Mine and for America.

We live in a particularly divisive world these days. Issues that used to be fodder for spirited conversation amongst friends and family now create permanent rifts; dividing and alienating people from each other. So it’s rare to find an issue upon which even the most extreme believers from either side of the aisle can agree. Fortunately, that issue is an important one and one which, thanks to the comment period being open until June 30th, we can voice our opposition to from either side of the aisle. Of course, I’m talking about the current Pebble Mine proposal being reviewed by the Army Corp of Engineers. 

The environmental opposition to this mine, a topic that tends to resonate more with left-leaning voters, though not exclusively their domain,  is very clear. In the history of mines of this type, never has one managed to avoid serious detrimental impacts to clean water. Add to that the unique and fragile ecosystem upon whose headwaters this particular mine sits and you have a recipe for environmental disaster. Little more needs to be said to rally environmental support for preventing the construction of Pebble Mine.

What I think is far less understood is the business and economic reasoning for the elimination of this threat to a great American industry. A reality that should motivate anyone who supports the current administration’s economic policy to oppose this mine. There is a lot of misinformation and some complicated corporate structure here so allow me to explain. 

Pebble Mine is a figment of the imagination of a Canadian shell corporation.

That’s how these things work. A small speculative company, in this case, Northern Dynasty Minerals (ticker: NAK), will buy a mining claim. They have no real assets aside from the claim, and absolutely no ability to actually construct a mine. What they do have is some cash and a prayer. They spend that cash speculating on there being ore in the ground on the claim they’ve purchased. Very few have this bet pay-off but when it does, it pays off big. If they find ore, they then put together a partnership of legitimate mining companies who develop a mine plan, help shepherd the plan through the appropriate regulatory agencies, and then actually own and operate the mine. That’s how it usually works. But not in this case. 

Here, Northern Dynasty tried to follow that plan, but all of the partners backed out a number of years ago as they recognized the environmental, economic, and reputational risks and infeasibility of the mine. In fact, one of the ex-partners gifted their shares to two Alaskan charitable organizations. Leaving a TINY Canadian company holding the claim on some potential ore in the Bristol Bay headwaters but without any approvals or the actual ability to build and operate a mine. So Northern Dynasty decided to attempt to get the approvals themselves, and then bring in partners later. And that is where we currently stand. Tiny Canadian shell company, no partners and no approvals. 

So what happens if the Army Corp approves the current plan?

Well, the Canadian company looks for partners. When they managed to have partners in the past there were four other companies involved. Rio Tinto, headquartered in Australia, Mitsubishi Corporation, a Japanese firm, Anglo-American, a London based mining outfit and First Quantum Minerals out of Canada. If you hadn’t noticed, that means the rights to pursue the world’s second-largest copper reserve, estimated at a half a trillion dollars in value and located on American soil, were owned by a Canadian, Australian, Japanese and British consortium of companies. In exchange for the ownership of all of this precious metal, they estimated Alaska would get around 1000 jobs out of the deal until the mining stops. 

Now, there is nothing to say those would be the partners on this go-round. Northern Dynasty will have its pick of potential partners from around the globe. There is some speculation that the Chinese Government would very much like control of one of the globes great metal supplies; something they are already pursuing with impunity throughout Africa. Regardless, these foreign firms would be glad to get their hands deep into American soil. 

Keeping foreign entities out of US mining operations wouldn’t be the only benefit to American Industry by killing this mine plan now.

The much bigger direct threat is to the industry that could be protected by denying Northern Dynasty’s attempts to mine Bristol Bay. Half of the world’s sockeye salmon supply comes from this drainage. This fabulous American resource creates an industry that puts blue-collar workers into jobs; 14,000 in the commercial fishing industry in Bristol Bay alone having something like a $1.5bln direct economic impact every year. Those figures don’t include the economic impact this American frontier has in terms of the outdoor, sportfishing, hunting and other peripheral industries. All of these American jobs and this globally important resource could be protected by simply rejecting the application of one tiny Canadian shell company to mine on American soil. 

So where does that leave us?

A small Canadian shell company wishes to bring in partners, quite possibly foreign entities to extract precious metals from Alaska. If approved, that mine threatens America’s stronghold on a globally important food resource that creates thousands of US jobs and puts billions into the local economy. If we’re willing to take on Chinese trade agreements, threaten US firms that move jobs overseas, and disrupt trade with our allies in order to create American jobs and maintain our industrial might, this one seems like a no brainer. 

Your voice counts. Please help.

Here’s how.

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5 thoughts on “How Pebble Mine Hurts America: Action Required by June 30th

  1. I have been following this situation for years, I think it’s a shame that we cannot stop this new attempt once and for all. Why suffer through more attempts year after year and strill we are faced with the possibility that the project, though rejected over and over, could be sneaked through this time. Where are the local representatives in this fight? Looks like we need to make this a fight to purchase the land and make it a park or preserve for all to enjoy! We need the locals and Washington together on this one.

  2. You probably didn’t do much research on the Alaska economy before you wrote this article. Should we kick BP out of Alaska or Repsol or any of the other companies that are not American from extracting our resources? Do we apply this to all the lower 48 as well no more foreign companies in the USA? The environmentalists have lost the argument on facts and I see they have switched really hard lately to targeting sports men and woman and spreading disinformation. The hypocrisy of the environmentalists that want all this green energy but oppose mining is laughable. These things you want are not made of unicorn farts and rainbows they are minerals that must be mined.

  3. Our environment and wildlife survival is crucial to the planet’s balancing and this will poison ☠️ the waters and kill many creatures! This mine needs to be shut down!

  4. As a Canadian, I am really saddened that a BS Canadian company can continue to Lobby this potential Ecological Disaster. My only suggestion is that the effort to stop this approval needs to continue until the Trump Administration has left the White House. The approval was rejected by Obama’s Administration and surely the next Administration will have the sense to put a stop to the madness.

  5. Back in my Alaska days, I spent 4 summers working as a helicopter mechanic contracted by the Pebble mine. I worked with the company that found the mine and the company that began the research and impact statements. I actually quit my company and went to work with another to get away from the mine. I interviewed in Oregon and was hired and they handed me tickets to Iliamna Alaska and back to the mine. This time I was informed that there was no fishing while at the job. I told my boss that if he heard about a little old lady fly fishing the Newhalen River that is it’s just me in disguise. He laughed and told me just don’t get caught. As an avid outdoorsman I never really liked the idea of the mine and didn’t really want to return there after leaving but it was a good paying job and just like many Alaskans I relied on logging and mining for much of my career. The problem with Pebble Mine, however, was the location. There are just some things that are best left alone and the Bristol Bay drainage is one of them. It becomes even more vital to us, as Americans, when so many foreign entities are considering the operation. It goes without saying that the contents from the Pebble Mine, there is much more than copper in the Pebble Mine, will benefit those foreign countries while risking our resources as well as the beauty that belongs to the American people. I have a lifelong connection to Iliamna and the Newhalen River as it is where I began my writing career. I was featured on the cover of an online magazine that shortly after gave me my own column. It was called Outdoor Adventures with Ken McBroom. The image was me holding a Lake Trout I used to catch on the surface of the Newhalen River using a maribou muddler. I wanted a copy of the photo printed out in the office and a fellow mechanic tried for an hour to print an image on the Pebble Mine printer. It didn’t work and we went to bed. The next morning the powers that be rebooted their system and off came more than a hundred copies of me holding the forbidden Lake Trout. They never said anything, but we got a kick out of that. They probably knew better as it is the fishing community that opposes them greatly. Here is a link to my Newhalen River Lake trout article so many years ago that started my love of writing

    I will be using your link to post my comment in opposition to the Pebble Mine and will also use my networks to get the word out as much as I can. Thanks for a great website that informs us in so many ways.

    Ken McBroom

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