Students and faculty discussed the implications and effects of the anticipated Pebble Mine in Southwest Alaska on April 24.
This was one of hundreds for similar discussions that have taken place since the state of Alaska sold a mineral rich section of Alaska to the London-based Anglo-America and the Northern Dynasty Partnership.
The intentions of the Pebble Mine owners are to excavate and mine the natural resources that have been known in the area since the initial stacking of grounds around the deposit in 1987 by the state of Alaska.
The Pebble Mine would become the largest American gold and copper mines. However, owners are anticipating of mining nine billion tons of ore.
The intention of the open forum discussion on campus, hosted by the student leadership team, was to increase awareness on the dramatic environmental hazards and effects that could arise if the Pebble Mine was awarded a water rights permit to Upper Talarik Creek and the Koktuli River for use in mining operations.
While the proposal of the Pebble Mine is still being planned, the intent of Anglo American and Northern Dynasty Minerals has been known site exploration of the area by these companies started in 2002.
The general outline of the plan consists of a large open pit mine, a large underground mine and the impoundment of water waste behind a 700-foot tall-earthen dam. The open mine is expected to resemble that of the Bingham Canyon Mine, a copper mine in the Oquirrh mountains of Utah.
The Bingham Mine is 0.75 miles deep, 2.5 miles wide and is in dispute with the South African Kimberley Diamond Mine as the largest man dug excavation. Currently, the Pebble Mines Corp. holds mineral rights for 186 square miles of state mineral claims, including the pebble deposits.
The area that would house the Pebble Mine is in a flat land where water runoff connects to Bristol Bay. Bristol Bay is one of the largest natural salmon spawning locations in America and 80 percent of the world’s wild salmon come from this area.
Due to the water runoff from the Pebble Mine, many fear that the runoff will harm the natural environment and harm the native people’s lifestyles.
Puyallup campus science instructor John Rosenthal explained the impact on the environment.
“(It would be) detrimental to the natural habitat and to the lives of those who rely on the salmon population because without this salmon population everyone is going to hurt, from the animals to the people,” he said.
Those in support of halting the Pebble Mine have become active in America and intend to raise the issue to the executive level, so as to gain as much political support as possible.
More information on the Pebble Mine project and Bristol Bay is available at www.savebristolbay.org.
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