Last update:
2020-01-23

Pebble Mine in Bristol Bay Alaska, USA

For over a decade, environmentalists and indigenous local residents fought to protect the salmon runs of Bristol Bay from the proposed Pebble gold and copper mine.


Description:

The area of Bristol Bay in Alaska is home to one of the greatest runs of wild sockeye salmon and over two dozen Alaskan Native Communities. The area is rich in deposits of gold, copper and molybdenum, which can be found in the around the Kvichak and Nushagak Rivers, two of the eight major rivers that feed Bristol Bay [2] [6].

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Pebble Mine in Bristol Bay Alaska, USA
Country:United States of America
State or province:Alaska
Location of conflict:Bristol Bay
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Mineral ore exploration
Tailings from mines
Pollution related to transport (spills, dust, emissions)
Dams and water distribution conflicts
Transport infrastructure networks (roads, railways, hydroways, canals and pipelines)
Transport infrastructure networks (roads, railways, hydroways, canals and pipelines)
Ports and airport projects
Ports and airport projects
Specific commodities:Copper
Gold
Molybdenum
Project Details and Actors
Project details

The mine will be a two-mile wide pit that could produce 2 billion metric tons of acid-producing ore. For the mining process two vast tailings reservoirs and a 3,286-acre waste rock pile, and an 86-mile service road with pipelines, processing facilities, power plants, and

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Project area:16,000
Level of Investment:140,000,000
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:7,500
Start of the conflict:01/01/2010
Company names or state enterprises:Pebble Limited Partnership (PLP) from United States of America
Northern Dynasty Minerals from Canada - Owner and primary funding of Pebble Mine
Relevant government actors:-United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
-U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:-Trout Unlimited’s Alaska program
-Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)
- Save Bristol Bay (savebristolbay.org)
-WhyWild
-Renewable Resources Coalition
-International Federation of Fly Fishers
-United Fishermen of Alaska
-Alaska Independent Fishermen’s Marketing Association
-Bristol Bay Regional Development Corporation
-Alaska Native subsistence users represented by Nunamta Aulukestai,
-Alaska Native Inter-Tribal Council and regional tribal and village councils
-Local lodge owners and guides, such as Brian Kraft, owner of Alaska Sportsman’s lodge
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Neighbours/citizens/communities
Social movements
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Recreational users
Local scientists/professionals
Yup’ik, Alutiiq, Athabaskan
Fisher people
Forms of mobilization:Community-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Community-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Arguments for the rights of mother nature
Boycotts of companies-products
Impacts
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil contamination, Soil erosion, Waste overflow, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Mine tailing spills, Other Environmental impacts, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Food insecurity (crop damage), Noise pollution, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Health ImpactsPotential: Occupational disease and accidents, Accidents, Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Malnutrition, Occupational disease and accidents
Socio-economical ImpactsPotential: Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Loss of livelihood
Outcome
Project StatusPlanned (decision to go ahead eg EIA undertaken, etc)
Conflict outcome / response:Under negotiation
Application of existing regulations
New Environmental Impact Assessment/Study
Development of alternatives:Although Environmental Protection Agency released comments critical of Pebble’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement, the agency would begin to withdraw the Proposed Determination from 2014 which showed immense impact on the environment. The project besides mining would even include other several "supporting" projects like dams and road and pipelines infrastructure. There is no alternative proposed by the company nor the agency.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:Not yet, while the Pebble Mine is still proposed there are local EJOs, large environmental organizations and other supporters have created a strong resistance to try and prevent the ecological and economic consequences that the mine would create. However. the project is still under consideration.
Sources & Materials
Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

[4] Bristol Bay, National Wildlife Federation
[click to view]

[6]Alaska Department of Natural Resources - Pebble Project

[7] Save Bristol Bay.org: Pebble project Fact Sheets
[click to view]

[4]

[1] Honoring the River, National Wildlife Federation April 2013
[click to view]

[2] Save Bristol Bay campaign
[click to view]

[5]Our Bristol Bay
[click to view]

[5]Our Bristol Bay

[3]The Huffington Post on the Pebble Mine
[click to view]

[6] Alaska Department of Natural Resources - Pebble Project
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Sara Orvis, University of Michigan School of Natural Resources, [email protected]
Last update23/01/2020
Comments
Legal notice / Aviso legal
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