FAQ regarding Pebble mine and Pebble Watch
Who owns the land that the Pebble mining claims are on?
The state of Alaska owns the lands on which the Pebble project has staked mining claims. This state-owned land is located within the Lake and Peninsula Borough, about 17 miles northwest of the village of Iliamna, and neighbors many different land owners, including Native corporation lands. In total the Pebble Limited Partnership (PLP) holds mineral rights to 186 square miles of lands surrounding the Pebble deposit. Other nearby communities are Newhalen and Nondalton. View land ownership map.
Who is Pebble Limited Partnership?
Pebble Limited Partnership (PLP) is the developer of the mine project. According to the PLP website: "Formed in 2007, the Pebble Partnership is a U.S. registered company based in Anchorage, Alaska. It is a 50-50 partnership between global mining company Anglo-American plc and Northern Dynasty Minerals Limited of Canada."
Alaska's Corporations database lists Pebble Limited Partnership (PLP) as a legal entity that filed with the state of Alaska in July 2007. Pebble Mines Corp. is listed as "General Partner" for the partnership, under the out-of-state address of a corporation service company.
Does any portion of the Pebble mine project involve BBNC land?
No portion of the mining claims are on land owned or managed by BBNC. A February 2011 document that Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd. released to the public shows a transportation corridor crossing BBNC land. Assuming a continued need to transport materials from mine to port, it is reasonable to expect a future plan may involve similar road construction.
I have read that there is no current mining plan, but I have also seen many references to a "planned mine," "planned port" and so on. Is there a plan, or isn't there?
An official mining plan has not yet been filed or otherwise been made publicly available. However, Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd. released a 529-page Preliminary Assessment (32 mg PDF) to investors in February 2011 that gives insight into some preliminary plans for mine development. The study includes information on mining types (open pit and underground); infrastructure needs such as port site, access roads, warehouses and water systems; and tailings impoundment design. In May 2011, Northern Dynasty announced its goal to complete a Prefeasibility Study in 2012, with permitting to follow. Under the current permitting process, an official mining plan would need to be filed with the state before permitting for a new mine would begin. View map of preliminary mine site layout.
What would be mined, and how much has been identified?
Test samples from the Pebble deposit have shown copper, molybdenum and gold. Pebble officials have said that at least three deposits have been found, and have good estimates on two of them. Pebble West has 569 million tons of ore identified in the “measured and indicated” category, and another 143 million tons in the “inferred” (or estimated) category. Pebble East has about 1.52 million tons of ore were identified as “inferred. The minerals are worth an estimated $400 billion, mine officials have said.
How might the Pebble Mine affect salmon runs and habitat?
Just what impact a large mine project such as Pebble would have on Bristol Bay salmon fisheries has been the subject of considerable debate. Concerns have been raised over possible impacts from such changes as new road construction crossing salmon streams, or mine operations activities that may change the chemical composition of the water, such as use of local water and tailings disposal.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has conducted an assessment of the Nushagak and Kvichak watersheds of Bristol Bay, with a focus on how large-scale mine development such as Pebble could affect the waters (and ultimately the fish) in the area. That assessment is scheduled to be drafted and ready for public comment in Spring 2012. The draft assessment was released in May 2012, and the final assessment is expected in late 2012 or early 2013.
A scientific peer review panel reviewed the assessment, meeting in Anchorage in August 2012. The panel’s report was expected in Fall 2012.
The Pebble Limited Partnership (PLP) has said the existing permitting process – informed by data from its Environmental Baseline Document (EBD) – would adequately predict potential impacts and protect salmon and habitat. Chapter 15 of the EBD does provide a description of fish and habitat in the North Fork Koktuli River, South Fork Koktuli River and Upper Talarik Creek watersheds. However, this document merely provides baseline data about the area; it does not predict potential impacts. Permits related to protecting salmon include the Fish Habitat Permit and Fish Passage Permit, although neither allow for public comment, so it is unclear when the public might preview and respond to potential impacts on salmon runs and habitat.
The nonprofit Keystone Center is conducting a dialogue process on the Pebble development that includes Independent Science Panels (ISP). ISPs were scheduled for October 2012, including the topic "Fish, Wildlife, and Habitat; Social, Economic, and Cultural Dynamics." These panels are open to the public and include independent science panelists. Questions about potential impacts for salmon may be raised in this forum.
How can I keep current on the status of the permitting process for the Pebble Mine project?
Pebble Watch.com will post this information as it becomes available. Current resources include our permitting timeline graphic, and a permitting matrix. Our Resources page also includes links to state, federal and project websites.
I have a strong opinion on the mine's development or would like to share my concern/support. How do I make my voice heard?
There are dozens of permits necessary for development of the proposed Pebble mine, and many of these include public comment periods. This offers an opportunity to express your opinions to state and federal agencies involved in the permitting process. Pebble Watch will track and post information on public comment periods as they are scheduled.
EPA Watershed Assessment
To express concern or support to Pebble Limited Partnership, you may use this form at its web site.
Contact the BBNC Land Department by calling (800) 426-3602, or use this contact form.
About Pebble Watch
Who publishes Pebble Watch?
Pebble Watch is a project of the Land Department at Bristol Bay Native Corporation.
Who is the ‘Pebble Watch team'?
The Pebble Watch team includes scientists and science outreach communicators with expertise in finding and understanding scientific data, as well as experts in land management and permitting-most of whom are employees of BBNC and its subsidiaries. If we do not know an answer, we will research it and provide the best available answer. We hope you will consider our team to be a resource shareholders can use when you are having difficulty finding the data or answers you need.
Does Pebble Watch oppose the Pebble Mine?
As an impartial, educational and fact-based initiative, Pebble Watch neither supports nor opposes development of Pebble mine. The purpose of Pebble Watch is solely to help BBNC shareholders stay up-to-date on the Pebble project's development and permitting process, including how to access and understand available resources and scientific data. Pebble Watch does not seek to reflect current BBNC Board or corporation views. For those purposes, the corporation will continue to use methods such as press releases and its website to communicate to shareholders and the public.
What are BBNC's views on development in Bristol Bay?
In a September 2011 letter to shareholders, BBNC President Jason Metrokin stated, "BBNC supports responsible resource development. That means development that is fiscally, environmentally and socially sustainable. It means development that serves the long-term interests of our people, our region and our businesses. After much research and deliberation, BBNC has concluded that the proposed Pebble Mine project fails these tests. The project is too big, of the wrong type and in the wrong location. It poses unacceptable risks to salmon and other resources of the region. These risks threaten the economic, social and cultural well-being of our shareholders and all residents of the Bristol Bay region."
For further information on BBNC and its views, please see the corporation's website.
About the EPA Watershed Assessment
What is the EPA Watershed Assessment?
In February 2011, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced plans to conduct an assessment of the Nushagak and Kvichak watersheds in Bristol Bay, to determine the impact of large-scale development in the area. The first draft of the watershed assessment was released to the public in May 2012. See the special edition Pebble Watch Explores for a guide to the assessment.
Visit the EPA Bristol Bay web site for details, updates, and EPA contact information.
How can EPA affect development of the Pebble mine?
Under the Clean Water Act, EPA can veto permits issued by the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) for releasing dredge or fill material at specific U.S. sites. EPA may invoke a veto before a permit application is submitted, while it is pending, or after it has been issued, if the agency determines the discharge will have "unacceptable adverse impacts on water supplies, shellfish beds and fishery areas, wildlife, or recreational areas."
Under the Clean Water Act, EPA may also dispute a permit decision by USACE after the fact. This dispute process may only be used if a project is likely to cause "unacceptable adverse effects to aquatic resources of national importance."
The EPA has been petitioned by Native tribes, corporations, organizations and a U.S. senator to use its veto authority to prohibit certain discharges from the proposed Pebble mine. The EPA has stated that its ongoing watershed assessment will inform any action it may take, and that it may not take action at all.
About the Keystone Center
Keystone is a nonprofit organization that has “pioneered a dialogue process focused on public policy issues in the areas of the environment, energy and public health,” according to its website.
Based in Keystone, Colo., the group was approached by consulting firm Sustainable Finance to conduct an independent stakeholder assessment and dialogue feasibility study focused on the proposed Pebble mine.
In 2008, Keystone conducted interviews with about 90 people in Anchorage, Bristol Bay and the Kenai Peninsula. The group identified key areas of environmental, social, and economic concern associated with a large-scale mine in the watershed. Find the draft report here.
The center in October 2012 planned to hold a series of independent science panels in Anchorage. Topics are: Geology and Geochemistry; Hydrology and Water Quality Studies; Fish, Wildlife and Habitat; and Socioeconomic and Cultural Studies.
A final science panel discussion exploring both mining and no-mine scenarios is planned for a later date.
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.