The land department of the Bristol Bay Native Corp., the regional Alaska Native Corporation for Southwest Alaska, is producing Pebble Watch, a newsletter dedicated to impartial information on the proposed Pebble Mine project. In addition to its printed form, BBNC is offering updates on current events affecting the proposed mine area at www.pebblewatch.com
Pebble developers have said they intend to begin the permitting process in 2012.
Pebble Watch does not attempt to integrate or interpret data; this would occur during an Environmental impact Statement process, BBNC says. Instead the publication and online updates are intended to help BBNC shareholders and all others interested to better understand data by providing summaries as well as context, such as how the data may be used in the permitting process and how it relates to regulatory benchmarks. The current issue of Pebble Watch focuses on the Pebble Partnership’s data release “report Series F: Surface Water and Groundwater Quality,” an overview of surface water and groundwater quality data collected between 2004 and 2007 in the Pebble project deposit area, Iliamna Lake and along the proposed transportation corridor. The newsletter includes a summary of the report, explains how the data relates to permitting, highlights some water quality issues related to mining and supplies answers to questions community members first asked Pebble developers in 2005.
Because of the potential for some mining activities and facilities to affect water quality, federal and state agencies often require monitoring programs to continue well beyond operations and closure as a condition of the permit. The deposit area is undeveloped and includes habitat for salmon and other fish harvested for both personal and commercial use. Establishing baseline water quality data is important for determining what an undeveloped environment looks like and for documenting any seasonal or site-specific conditions in the region, which include salmon habitat.
In mining projects, new permit applications must be completed as the work changes from exploration to construction, operation and closure. A temporary water use permit already exists for exploration of the Pebble deposit area. New applications pertaining to water resource use will be required if the project is developed