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Fools Gold Mine

Jun 1

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01/06/2011 10:06  RssIcon


Home of the worlds largest wild salmon fishery is now the proposed home for the largest open pit mine in North America.

Construction of the Pebble Mine in Bristol Bay, Alaska is likely to result in long term damage to people and ecosystems, including that of the worlds largest wild sockeye salmon fishery.  According to the campaign group 'Save Bristol Bay', if built, the mine could produce up to 10 billion tonnes of toxic mine waste which would require water treatment for hundreds of years.

"This project will jeopardize the fishery that supplies 50% of the world's commercial supply of sockeye salmon," said Bob Waldrop, director of the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association, which represents approximately 2, 000 commercial fishermen.

Even its investors are wary of the project. Major American and UK investor organisations led by Trillium Asset Management and Calvert Investments have released an open letter to America’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), urging it to exercise its authority under the country's Clean Water Act to safeguard Bristol Bay.

“Ecosystem degradation is of serious concern to investors,” said the letter made public on 12 April by nearly 30 investment organizations representing over £105 billion in assets. The letter outlines concerns not only for potential environmental risks, but in light of recent BP issues, the latent costs that such an eventuality could incur (they say approximately 50% of company earnings are at risk).

Local campaigners have also raised concerns. "Six Tribes of Bristol Bay asked the EPA to use its authority to protect the world's most valuable wild salmon fishery and we stand with them along with the Bristol Bay Native Corporation. We remain confident that EPA will make the right decision to protect the salmon and people of Bristol Bay." said Kimberly Williams, executive director of Nunamta Aulukestai, an association of nine village corporations, the regional corporation and Tribes representing more than half of the Alaska Native People of Bristol Bay.

“With the clear majority of Bristol Bay residents opposing the mine, I’d really like to know why Anglo American CEO Cynthia Carroll is moving forward without community consent as required by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People,” added MP Martin Horwood, a member of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Tribal Peoples.

Despite nearly 80% of locals voicing opposition to the mine, Anglo American and partner Northern Dynasty Minerals continue to push the project forward. With fiscal 2010 turnover of $28 bn, Anglo American PLC is one of the worlds largest producers of base metals, coal, diamonds, iron ore, and platinum. Despite cost cutting plans that will see it sell businesses worth £3bn this year they have their sights set on expansion into Bristol Bay area. Meanwhile a recent article from ADA states that the Pebble Partnership (Anglo American and Northern Dynasty) spent more than any other sector, even oil, on lobbying the Alaskan Legislature last year.

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