Alaska Voters’ Choice: Mining Company Profits or Salmon Habitat
Next week in southwest Alaska’s Lake and Peninsula Borough, voters will have an important choice to make. This region is home to one of the world’s largest salmon fisheries. And a gigantic mining conglomerate wants to undertake a huge gold and copper extraction project right here.
Next week’s Save Our Salmon initiative will ask voters whether or not to ban all local extraction/mining activity that could threaten salmon habitat. Hmmm…one of the world’s largest salmon habitats, or higher profits for a mining company…a resource that renews itself every year, forever (i.e. salmon) vs. a resource that gets extracted from the Earth only once (wreaking havoc in the process), and then that’s it…
The proposed mine would be right above Iliamna Lake, which has more sockeye salmon than anywhere else in the world. The local Bristol Bay Native Corp., with more than 8,000 shareholders, is opposed to the mine, needless to say. The company’s CEO said the proposed mine is an “unacceptable risk to Bristol Bay salmon, which have supported our communities for thousands of years.”
Robert Redford has gotten involved in this issue, along with a lot of world-famous chefs. And some of the biggest-name jewelers have vowed not to sell any gold that comes from this mining project.
The proposed mining project is called Pebble Mine. It’s being promoted by Pebble Limited Partnership. It’s a joint venture of Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd. and Anglo American plc. And that’s enough tangled corporate-speak; my head hurts.
An attorney for the Save Our Salmon group said: “It's not a NIMBY thing so much as a survival thing.”
He said putting that mine near Iliamna Lake would be like putting a nuclear plant next to an elementary school:
“To these people, it's completely inappropriate and incompatible with the life they want to live.”