Friday, December 28, 2007

Pebble Mine, Alaska

What could become one of the world's biggest open-pit gold mines, called the Pebble Mine, is being proposed in southwest Alaska. Opponents of the plan, including sportsmen, commercial fisherman, many native Alaskans, and former Alaska governor Jim Hammond, are concerned that the mine could affect the economically important wild-salmon fishing and tourism industries. The mine site is located in the headwaters of streams flowing into Lake Iliamana and Bristol Bay.

SkyTruth has generated a gallery of satellite images showing what the mine site looks like now, and a series of simulations based on several versions of the mine development plan that have been published by the mining company, Northern Dynasty. A tip o' the hat to one of SkyTruth's talented volunteers, Andrew Vernon, who produced this simulation showing the most recent plan.

And another nod to Erin and Hig McKittrick for their excellent Pebble Mine website, including a blog, photo gallery, and interactive Google map of the Pebble Mine site and surrounding area. All in all, this is an outstanding example of the "ground truth" comment Paul discussed a few days ago. Expect to see a whole lot more of this in 2008!

7 comments:

  1. If you want to know what happens to old sludge dams from copper mines, you need to check out Iron Mountain in California, labeled this week as "the worst water in the world." Don't take my word for it: check out this EPA report:
    http://www.epa.gov/superfund/programs/aml/tech/imm.pdf
    And spread the word on this.
    Also, I blogged on this topic today. See http://spmcrector.blogspot.com/
    Thanks!

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  2. Reverend Richardson - thanks for this comment, and the links. Mining produces a lot of the things we need and want, but the industry has a bad habit of leaving colossal messes behind for us taxpayers to deal with.

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  3. Wow, it is interesting how crucial this decision is for pebble mine Alaska. I am sure they are working hard to make these waters environmentally safe for everyone. Thanks for the Blog.

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  4. Misty - I'm not sure who you mean by "they", but folks might be interested in checking out your link to savebristolbay.org for the latest on this proposed mine.

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  5. Contrary to popular belief, the world is not coming to an end. People dig big holes to extract valuable resources from which all technological and economic progess is developed. Mining is necessary to our standard of living. We can do it right without shutting down the industry and the economy.

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  6. Mineguy: You are quite right that resources can be developed safely, and we do not take a stance on whether or not this project should proceed. SkyTruth, however, works to point out inaccuracies or omissions in the documents and debate critical to deciding if this project is going to be done right.

    Natural resource extraction has a notorious history of socialized cost (from clean up and other lost resources/opportunities) after private benefit has been extracted, so we urge caution to see that all costs are accounted for in the decision making process.

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  7. Good point and keep up the good work.

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