After sinking hundreds of millions into blueprinting its gold and copper mine monstrosity at the susceptible, fish-rich headwaters of Bristol Bay, AK, mining company Anglo American has officially backed out of the Pebble Limited Partnership.
Anglo CEO, Mark Cutifani, said yesterday that the company’s focus would be to “prioritize capital to projects with the highest value and lowest risks within our portfolio, and reduce the capital required to sustain such projects during the pre-approval phases of development as part of a more effective, value-driven capital allocation model.”
The move, which has been greeted with optimism by the anti-Pebble contingent, is considered a step forward. But it shouldn’t be confused as an outright victory, says Scott Hed of the Sportsman’s Alliance for Alaska.
“It’s no doubt a fantastic development to see the deep-pockets developer in the Pebble Partnership decide that it’s no longer worth the risk to their company,” he said. “It doesn’t, however, make the problem of Pebble Mine go away.”
For the latter to take place, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) still holds the last hand. The agency is slated to finalize its Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment this fall. From there it can, under the federal Clean Water Act, pull the plug on Pebble—based on the act’s authoritative power to eliminate releases of high amounts of toxic substances into water.
The majority of Americans, as well as a growing international anti-mine contingent, would back the EPA in this decision. Three in four of you, for instance, who commented on the EPA’s draft Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment said that protecting Bristol Bay—home to one of the world’s last, best bastions of sockeye salmon—from Pebble Mine was a no-brainer.
Moreover, according to Trout Unlimited: “Approximately 654,000 of the over 895,000 total comments supported the EPA’s efforts to protect Bristol Bay, with numbers even higher among comments made by individuals (not mass mailed) and those coming from Alaska.”
Following Anglo’s announcement, Northern Dynasty—the other half of the Pebble Limited Partnership—took a Wall Street beating yesterday, with its stock nose-diving 30 percent. Northern Dynasty, for the time being, will take over 100 percent of the Pebble cause, continuing its push to build the mine.