Thursday, January 5, 2012

Pebble Mine Plan Superimposed on Washington, DC


The concerns of many fishing and sportsmen’s groups, environmentalists and local Alaskans have risen over the proposed Pebble open-pit copper/gold mine in southwest Alaska. Here I have superimposed an image of the mine footprint over Washington DC, using Google Earth Pro, to demonstrate the size of the proposed open-pit mine and the tailings and wasterock storage impoundments that we’ve calculated would be necessary to accommodate this mining operation.

Superimposed image of proposed Pebble mine over DC

In the image above, you can compare the size of the mining pit to The Mall in DC, nothing compared to the huge impoundments required to store all the rock and tailings that would be excavated from the pit. The image below shows three very large impoundments, each bounded by a series of earth-and-rock-filled dams. The largest tailings impoundment will be held by what would be the longest dam in the world.

Tailings impoundments necessary to hold Pebble mine waste

We estimate this huge mine will produce 13.5 billion cubic yards of liquid slurry and wasterock. All of the waste must be eternally confined in a seismically active area that will likely experience major earthquakes. Spills, leakage or any other damage to the dams could negatively affect Alaska’s $5 billion BristolBay fishing industry as well as tourism. 

For more information check out all of our blog posts about the Pebble mine and check out our map and image gallery.

4 comments:

  1. Fortunately for the Federal Government, it is not located at the mine site. The Pebble Mine, when developed, will be a speck on Alaska's landscape. How many people who fly into Salt Lake City have ever noticed one of the world's largest open pit mines, Bingham Canyon, just outside city limits. The mine can be developed responsibly without killing all the salmon in Bristol Bay's watershed. These types of scare tactics are part and parcel of the anti-industrial left who would rather lock up Alaska entirely than allow free enterprise to create an economy.

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  2. 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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  3. Thanks for your great service. The images and google files are very informative.

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  4. Glad to hear the resources are helpful, and we appreciate and encourage discussion from all positions and opinions. We certainly wouldn't be able to do our work with no electricity, computer, satellites, or the internet, all of which in their current form need mineral resources.

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