Pebble Mine in Bristol Bay Alaska, USA


The area of Bristol Bay in Alaska is home to one of the greatest runs of wild sockeye salmon, over two dozen Alaskan Native Communities and extensive deposits of copper, gold, and other minerals. The proposed mine by the Pebble Limited Partnership at the headwaters of the Nushagak and Kvichak rivers would be the largest open pit mine in North America at 2 miles across and 2,000 feet deep. The billions of tons of mine waste would be dumped into man-made lakes created by flooding 10 square miles of land behind earthen dams more than 600 feet high. The environmental risks of this project are enormous, but equally important are the devastating repercussions the mine will have on the indigenous peoples of Bristol Bay, who have lived on these lands for generations and depend on the bay’s salmon for their survival. Due to the remoteness of the location the Native Communities rely on surrounding natural resources including salmon that would be greatly affected by the approval of the Pebble mine. Additionally, the mine would affect the economic success that comes from tourism within the surrounding rivers.

Basic Data
NamePebble Mine in Bristol Bay Alaska, USA
CountryUnited States of America
SiteBristol 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
Specific CommoditiesCopper
Iron ore
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsThe 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

other industrial infrastructure [1]
Project Area (in hectares)16187.426
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Population7,500
Company Names or State EnterprisesPebble Limited Partnership (PLP) from United States of America
Northern Dynasty Minerals from Canada - Owner and primary funding of Pebble Mine
Relevant government actorsUnited States Environmental Protection Agency

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersTrout Unlimited’s Alaska program

Natural Resources Defense Council

Our Bristol Bay


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
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingIndigenous groups or traditional communities
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Social movements
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Recreational users
Local scientists/professionals
Fisher people
Forms of MobilizationDevelopment of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Arguments for the rights of mother nature
Appeals/recourse to economic valuation of the environment
Boycotts of companies-products
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), 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, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Mine tailing spills, Other Environmental impacts
Health ImpactsVisible: Accidents, Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…)
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusPlanned (decision to go ahead eg EIA undertaken, etc)
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseStrengthening of participation
Under negotiation
Application of existing regulations
Project temporarily suspended
Do you consider this as a success?Not Sure
Why? Explain briefly.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.
Sources and Materials

Bristol Bay, National Wildlife Federation
[click to view]

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

Our Bristol Bay
[click to view]

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


[1] Honoring the River
[click to view]

Save Bristol Bay campaign
[click to view]

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

Meta Information
ContributorSara Orvis, University of Michigan School of Natural Resources, [email protected]
Last update06/04/2015