The Pebble Mine is expected to sit astride the headwaters of the two major river systems feeding Bristol Bay. Bristol Bay’s enormous salmon population spawns throughout the rivers which intersect at the proposed mine site. Lake Iliamna, the largest incubator of salmon in the world, lies directly below the mine site and is being considered by the Pebble Partnership as a possible site for disposing of mine waste.
Thirty to forty million salmon spawn in the waters at and below the proposed mine site. This habitat fuels the largest wild salmon fishery left on earth – employing over 7000 Alaskans, is home to the largest bears in the world, world record sport fishing streams and a Native population that has been documented as subsistence users going back almost 10,000 years.
Northern Dynasty has described the proposed Pebble Mine to shareholders as the largest gold mine and 5th largest copper mine in the world. All of the 20 largest copper mines in the world have destroyed the waters around them and no such mine has ever been developed in a location as ecologically sensitive as Alaska’s Bristol Bay.
Recent studies on the effects of copper on salmon have shown that as little as 3 parts per billion disrupt salmons’ natural homing mechanisms. Because the Pebble Mine site is located directly above Bristol Bay in an environment known for high winds and heavy rains, the likelihood of contaminating the salmon’s habitat is significant. Additionally, five of the largest dams ever constructed must be erected to hold the 10 billion tons of mine waste the mine’s ore would generate - forever. That equates to 3,000 pounds of mine waste for every person alive on the planet today.
The facts point to certain environmental disasters if Pebble Mine were to proceed – from the construction of roads and infrastructure crossing hundreds of salmon streams, from human error, from wind and rain blowing or flooding contaminants into the water system, or from dramatic seismic activity. If Pebble proceeds, another 1000 square miles of land in the Bristol Bay region – an area the size of the State of Rhode Island - have been claimed by other mining companies.
The Pebble Mine would have devastating consequences for Alaska’s salmon population and would destroy the region’s world class sport fishing opportunities, local subsistence fishing with a 10,000 year history, and a commercial fishing industry that employs 7,000 workers and generates $300 million a year.