Winter in Unalaska by Sam Zmolek
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Raider Reflections: Wrong Mine in the Wrong Place


In 2006, Northern Dynasty Minerals introduced the Pebble Mine proposal to a multitude of communities in Bristol Bay, Alaska to construct one of the world’s largest open-pit mines in the middle of the region. They sought to mine a large amount of copper, gold, and molybdenum.   

A majority of Alaskans came to oppose the Pebble Mine (though it was not easy) because it would affect the fisheries and the clean water supply located in Bristol Bay. But it also would create high-paying jobs and local citizens would have more disposable income.

Now, Pebble’s CEO assumes that people have forgotten the previous past issues and set to start anew. They even greatly exaggerated the limited local support of the mine. Furthermore, two of the largest mining companies in the world have pulled out of the project losing hundreds of million dollars of support money in the process. Even though they are losing support, they still keep promoting their Pebble Mine proposal. 

Pebble Mine is still trying to continue with their project even though, “The long-term risks of the mine far exceeds any potential short-term benefits,” according to Danielle Stickman,who is a shareholder of the Bristol Bay Native Corp. and has a bachelor’s degree in environmental science.

The governor of Alaska Bill Walker, has opposed plans of the Pebble Mine during his campaign. So has the State Department of Natural Resources,which has delayed extending one of Pebble’s existing permits so it can collect data from public concern about the company’s current plans. Also, state voters have supported a ballot initiative to require legislative approval for large-scale mines that could threaten Bristol Bay’s fisheries. Alaska’s House of Representatives has a majority that is more skeptical and concerned about Pebble’s promises that say the mine can coexist with the region’s fisheries.

The Pebble Mine is constantly losing public support but still they are persistent to get this mine approved. A majority that opposes the Pebble Mine can’t stress enough that if the mine is put into action, then roughly 60% of the fishery jobs in this area will be gone because of the absence of Bristol Bay fisheries. As a result, the total profit in this area will lose about $1.5 billion. These jobs will be gone forever because the fish habitats in this area will be wiped out too. Even when they are done mining, the habitats won’t come back, as said before.

More of the public needs to express their opinion and oppose the Pebble Mine or it will constantly be an itch we cannot get to. We have made progress since the start of this project to delay construction but we need them to completely abandon the project. As Ted Steven’s once said, “The Pebble Mine is the wrong mine in the wrong place.