The comment period for Pebble Mine’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) has started, and the battle rages on. In a confrontation of sorts, Rob Theissen—President and CEO of North Dynasty Minerals Ltd., which owns the Pebble Mine project—wrote an opinion piece in the Anchorage Daily News, as a way to respond to an earlier anti-Pebble Mine opinion piece. This literary battle is happening in the midst of the completely inadequate—but immensely important—Pebble DEIS public comment period. And, just recently, an independent financial assessment of Pebble Mine has surfaced and paints a negative picture for Pebble’s economic feasibility. There is ample evidence of Pebble being the “wrong mine, wrong place,” but corporate interests are undeniably powerful. We must continue to support the diverse coalition opposing Pebble Mine and submit comments to the Army Corps of Engineers in opposition to Pebble.
Let’s start with the independent financial assessment, which Pebble never provided. Richard Borden, with his 23 years of experience in permitting mines and other projects, is no stranger to environmental and financial assessments. So, when pebble refused to release its financial assessment, he took it upon himself to supply the Army Corps of Engineers his independent financial assessment of Pebble mine. Borden’s “Pebble Mine Economics,” finds that the plan outlined in the DEIS is “almost certainly not economically feasible”.
Borden concluded that the Pebble project proposal would not make economic sense, unless Pebble broadens the scope of its operation from the plan outlined by the DEIS. Also noted in this report was the subject of Acid Mine Drainage (AMD); Borden found that, given the AMD producing nature of the mine’s ore and rock, “it is almost certain that any open pit mine will create perpetual water management and treatment liabilities,” which could cost “$8 million/year in perpetuity”. Many of us already knew the infeasibility of Pebble, but Borden’s independent assessment provides more evidence of Pebble’s negligence and alludes to the strong possibility that Pebble will have to widen the scope of its operation. For more on the Assessment, check out this Natural Resources Defense Council article: Pebble Mine Fails Financial Analysis. Also, be sure to submit a comment to the Army Corps of Engineers!
Now, after gaining additional perspective on this issue, let’s turn to these two combative Pebble Mine opinion pieces. A group of fishing lodge owners wrote their opinion piece on March 8th, “Pebble Mine Draft Environmental Impact Statement Fails Alaskans,” sparking the Pebble response. In the lodge owners’ piece, the group wrote:
“Pebble has put forth a massive proposal that covers only a fraction of the ore in the ground. The Corps has allowed this stunt and as such, the draft EIS ignores Pebble’s planned expansion.”
This statement, as we now know from the Borden assessment, is correct and must be taken seriously. If the current DEIS does not account for a planned mining expansion, the Army Corps should amend their DEIS and Pebble should make their actual intentions known.
Pebble’s CEO and President Rob Theissen responded with an opinion piece of his own, titled “Don’t Buy The Alarmism About The Pebble Mine“. Theissen claimed the fishing lodge owners’ opinion piece was dragging the Pebble name through the mud. Yet, there has been ample criticism of Pebble Mine and its entire permitting process. In his opinion, Theissen added: “Pebble will not affect the water resources of Bristol Bay. Water quality in nearby streams will be maintained. Downstream water flows will continue to support healthy aquatic habitat. And there will be no water quality impairment post-closure”. In no world can Thiessen guarantee these statements; accidents happen, and human error is common.
When you look at the magnitude of what one accident or failure could mean for Bristol Bay, it becomes clear that Pebble Mine is the wrong mine in the wrong location and must be stopped.
With the highly questioned DEIS, a less than ideal comment period length, and Borden’s independent financial assessment, the need to speak up against Pebble Mine has never been more important. Please, if you haven’t already, submit a comment to the Army Corps of Engineers, voicing your opinion and desire to protect Bristol Bay. You can submit a comment through this link from Trout Unlimited. Additionally, reaching out to Alaska’s elected officials– Sen. Lisa Murkowski, Sen. Dan Sullivan, Rep. Don Young, or Gov. Michael Dunleavy–or your state’s Politicians can make a huge difference. The outreach and support in opposition to Pebble has been amazing, but we are not done yet–keep up the pressure!
Media curtesy of Trout Unlimited and Fly Out Media!
This article was written by Fly Lords team member Will Poston.
Here are some previous Pebble Mine articles from Flylords: