WASHINGTON -- One of the two companies seeking to build Alaska's Pebble mine is dropping out of the project as scrutiny grows over its impact on wild salmon.
British mining giant Anglo American said Monday it is withdrawing from the Pebble Partnership, a 50-50 venture with Canada's Northern Dynasty Minerals. Anglo American will take a $300 million charge for dropping out.
Anglo American CEO Mark Cutifani said the company wants to focus instead on lower risk projects.
"Despite our belief that Pebble is a deposit of rare magnitude and quality, we have taken the decision to withdraw following a thorough assessment of Anglo American's extensive pipeline of long-dated project options," he said in a written statement. "Our focus has been to prioritize capital to projects with the highest value and lowest risks within our portfolio."
Northern Dynasty vowed to press forward on the mine.
"Northern Dynasty and the Pebble Partnership have both the expertise and resources necessary to advance the Pebble project," Northern Dynasty CEO Ron Thiessen said in a written statement on Monday.
~ snip ~ The Environmental Protection Agency is considering blocking the mine to protect Alaska's Bristol Bay salmon. It's the most valuable fishery in the world, producing about half the world's supply of wild red salmon.There's more at the link.
A draft EPA study released in April concluded that even without a major accident the mine could wipe out nearly 100 miles of streams and 4,800 acres of wetlands in the Bristol Bay region. In addition, failures of a pipeline carrying the copper concentrate or a tailings dam holding the mine waste could poison salmon with acid producing compounds or copper.
I'm generally in favor of economic activity, but this proposal - to build one of the largest earthen dams in the world to hold back the tailings, in one of the most seismically active earthquake zones - is clearly a bad idea.