Top executives of a Canadian
mining company determined to develop a mine at the headwaters of Bristol Bay in
western Alaska have acknowledged plans for a project that would continue
operations for 180 to 200 years.
Their words came in
video-taped conversations with members of a Washington D.C. based Environmental
Investigation Agency, who posed as potential investors. Video tapes released on
Monday, Sept. 21 by EIA also contained details of Pebble’s apparent plans to
open up other large areas of western Alaska to mining, including the Donlin
Gold mine in the Yukon Kuskokwim region of western Alaska.
The “Pebble Tapes” ( https://eia-global.org/reports/20200921-the-pebble-tapes)
are interviews with Ronald
W. Thiessen, chief executive of Northern Dynasty Minerals, the parent company
of the Pebble Limited Partnership, and Tom Collier, chief executive of the
partnership, who thought they were speaking with potential investors.
These tapes, said Alexander
von Bismark, executive director of EIA, “show that potential investors are
given an entirely different vision for this massive mine than the government
and the public.”
PLP spokesman Mike Heatwole
in Anchorage said that the mining firm had not had an opportunity yet to review
the tapes, “but I can tell you what we’ve seen reported in these tapes thus far
is not inconsistent with the position that Northern Dynasty and the Pebble
Partnership have taken for the past several years.” Heatwole said that plans
are to permit and develop a mine with a 20-year life and clearly defined
footprint, but that there would be potential for subsequent phases of
development to be permitted in the future.”
The video tapes show
Thiessen telling the investigators “once you have something like this in
production why would you want to stop?”
Collier said that opening up the Pebble deposit could help pave the way
for the Donlin gold mine. “If you flip the Pebble switch on it’s likely that
you may also be flipping on the Donlin switch,” he said.
Reaction from the environmental
entity SalmonState was swift. “From their manipulation of the Alaska governor’s
office to the truth of their plan for a massive 200-year mine, to cozy
relationships with the Army Corps and EPA political appointees, it’s clear they
will stop at nothing in their plans to build a toxic mega-mine at the
headwaters of the greatest sockeye salmon run left on the planet,” said
SalmonState’s Rachel James.
hard to say what is the most astonishing thing about that whole series of
recordings,” said former Alaska Senate President Rick Halford, a Republican and
mine opponent. “If I had to pick out one, it would be just amazing arrogance.
To explain how you have corrupted the process to a potential investor and why
you are going to succeed, it is just kind of amazing.”