Opponents of Proposed Alaska Pebble Copper/Gold Mine Applaud EPA Intervention

Posted April 9, 2014

MP3 Interview with Kimberly Williams, director of Nunamta Aulukestai, an association of ten Alaskan Native tribes, conducted by Melinda Tuhus. Editor's note: Northern Dynasty Minerals Limited owns 100 percent of the Pebble Limited Partnership, promoting the Pebble Mine in southwest Alaska. On April 7, the global mining firm Rio Tinto announced that it will divest its 19 percent stake in the controversial Pebble Mine project in Alaska. This follows the withdrawal from the project by another mining conglomerate, Anglo American, which had forged a 50-50 ownership deal with Northern Dynasty in 2007.

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After years of opposition to the proposed Pebble Mine from Alaskan native organizations and their allies, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced on April 7 that it is invoking its Clean Water Act authority in order to determine whether the agency can permanently prohibit or restrict mine waste disposal into Alaska’s Bristol Bay watershed. The Pebble Mine, if it were to be built, would be North America’s largest open pit gold and copper mine. Bristol Bay is the easternmost area of the Bering Sea, extending for 250 miles along the Alaskan Peninsula.

Efforts to dig the mine have been ongoing for years, but the developers have been thwarted by grassroots opposition groups armed with scientific studies presenting evidence that damage to the local ecosystem would result, especially to the world-famous sockeye salmon fishery there. Pebble Mine opponents include commercial fishermen, conservation groups, churches, investors and recreational fishermen.

Between The Lines’ Melinda Tuhus spoke with Kimberly Williams, director of Nunamta Aulukestai, an association of ten Bristol Bay native tribes and Alaska native village corporations. Here, she talks about her group's opposition to the Pebble Mine proposal and the role of the EPA in the process.

Find additional information on the campaign to stop the Pebble Mine at the Nunamta Aulukestai website at www.nunamta.org.

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