Northern Dynasty Minerals (NDM) President Ron Thiessen told attendees of the Alaska Resource Development Council (RDC) conference that the Canadian mining company is actively looking for a new investor in the Pebble project now that Anglo American has withdrawn.
No decisions will be made on timing for going to permitting until that investor is identified, said Thiessen. He noted that the permitting paperwork is 90% complete and that "we'll be ready to go." He also outlined characteristics that a new investor must have, including:
Earlier in the day, Pebble Limited Partnership (PLP) CEO John Shively had presented his case for how the Pebble project could benefit the people of Bristol Bay, saying that he was initially interested in working for PLP because of his desire to help create jobs in Alaska.
Recent news related to the proposed Pebble mine:
Bristol Bay initiative likely to make it to ballots (TheRepublic.com)
The Associated Press reports that the "Bristol Bay Forever" initiative, which would require legislative approval for large-scale mining projects such as the proposed Pebble mine, appears to have enough signatures to be placed on the ballot next year for a public vote. The Division of Elections expects to certify the proposal in mid-December.
DNR calls off public meetings for permitting bill (alaskapublic.org)
Utah mine becomes debating point in Alaskan environmental fight (KSL Broadcasting, Salt Lake City, Utah)
Dena'ina cultural studies (APRN)
Young Bad River Documentary featured at Big Water Film Festival (UpNorth Explorer)
A potential mine in Indian country has become “the source of much impassioned debate between those who argue for economic development and more jobs, and those who speak of environmental and social consequences a mine may bring." Sound familiar? It’s not Pebble. Three teens from the Bad River Tribe in Wisconsin have produced a film to speak about the potential impact of the taconite mine proposed for the Penokee Hills of Ashland and Iron counties, Wisconsin.
A Pebble Watch-based interactive presentation on communicating science premiered Nov. 2 in Denver to a group of Native American scientists, students and educators attending the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) annual conference this year.
Andria Agli, Vice President, Shareholder and Corporate Relations for Bristol Bay Native Corporation (BBNC), presented the talk, "Communicating Science Across Cultures: Lessons learned by the Alaska Native educational program Pebble Watch," accompanied by a PowerPoint and group activities. The session sparked questions about Pebble as well as conversation about how scientists can best communicate science across barriers including age, class, cultures, educational levels, and fields of specialty.
"Even if you're not in communications, it's likely that helping communicate your work to the public will be a part of your job as a scientist," Agli said.
After an introduction to Pebble Watch, attendees split into small groups and attacked the first activity: listing out examples of "jargon," or words that were everyday language to them but would need to be explained to others. Among the numerous examples the group came up with and posted at the front of the room were: portals, websites, "young of year," riparian, sonomicrometry, hydrological analyses, palynology, sustainability, pipeline and "selfies."
In another exercise, participants read examples of writing about Pebble to guess who had written them: developers, a state or federal agency, or environmental groups. Many were surprised that the answers were not obvious, and had to do more with subtle changes in focus than with obvious word choices.
For example, two of the statements accurately described the amount of copper versus rock thought to be present at the Pebble deposit. But where the statement from potential developers focused on the 1% of the deposit that would be recovered as copper, the statement from environmentalists focused on the 99% likely to be discarded as waste rock or tailings.
Agli explained how BBNC continues to support PebbleWatch taking an objective and largely independent approach to its coverage, even while the Board has taken a stance against the Pebble project. She also encouraged scientists and educators in the room to be advocates for clear communication of science in both their Native communities as well as among their scientific peers. "You can be a link between western and traditional science," she said.
AISES' 3-day conferences have been held annually since 1978, bringing together high school juniors and seniors, college students, graduate students, teachers, science professionals and corporate representatives from the sciences to offer opportunities for networking, fellowship and learning—encompassing the ways of western science as well as indigenous/elder wisdom.
BBNC also attended the event for recruiting purposes. For more about AISES, see the society's website.
Even without Anglo American's financial backing, Pebble Limited Partnership has said that its proposed Pebble mine project will move forward. But without additional backers, the plan's information rollout – once envisioned as multi-pronged stakeholder educational effort – likely will be scaled down. At a recent Alaska Native Professional Association panel in Anchorage, we asked PLP CEO John Shively and PLP spokesman Mike Heatwole about how the company would set outreach priorities in light of the withdrawal.
PLP is currently assessing what activities can continue and what cannot, said Shively. Setting these priorities would not occur until November, after Anglo American transitions out of the partnership, he said. For now, almost all contractors have been sent "stop orders," and asked to report to PLP on progress to date.
With Anglo American's participation, PLP had reported a budget of about $80 million for 2013. "We do know that there will be considerably less funding than there has been in the past," Shively said. "We will move the project along. There are things we can do to continue to try to educate the public on what kind of project it is. I hope that some point in the near future we will have a description of the project we can take to the public."
A proposed Keystone panel on the mine plan is one part of the outreach that would not occur, Shively said. PLP was still awaiting Keystone's report on the two sessions from October 2012 and May 2013, he said. Keystone confirmed receipt of a temporary "stop order," and said a report was in progress. The nonprofit group was unaware of any final decision having been made about its involvement.
Prior to Anglo American's announcement in September, PLP's Heatwole had told Pebble Watch about some of the company's initial ideas for ensuring that stakeholders would be able to access and understand the mine plan. Following are some of the elements that Heatwole described. At this time, however, it is unclear which, if any, of these communication efforts will remain in place after the transition period at PLP is complete.
PLP Website: Primary means of transmitting information on the project.
Mine plan "light": Staff members had been working on explaining the complicated terminology and concepts of the mine plan in layman's terms, and had considered producing multiple versions of the plan: an in-depth version and a "lighter" version that would provide an overview.
In-region meetings on mine plan: PLP was planning to take the plan to communities and get feedback before permitting.
As we learn more, Pebble Watch will continue to post updates to help our readers access and understand information about the proposed mine.
About Pebble Watch
Pebble Watch is an impartial, educational and fact-based initiative of the BBNC Land Department to disseminate information regarding the proposed Pebble Mine project to BBNC shareholders and interested parties.