It would put a halt to activity around mining in Alaska.”
That’s what Cynthia Carroll, president and CEO of global mining giant Anglo American plc, had to say about the Clean Water Initiative when asked about the proposal currently working its way to the ballot in Alaska.
Carroll made the comment at the Sheraton Anchorage Hotel Oct. 24, after speaking to members of the Resource Development Council about the proposed 8.2 billion-ton Pebble copper-gold-molybdenum mine.
Anglo American is developing the mammoth mining project in Southwest Alaska with partner Northern Dynasty Inc.
Carroll, who was ranked No. 7 this year by Forbes Magazine among the world’s most powerful women, said the initiative “would be a major problem for the mining industry.”
If passed by Alaska voters, the measure would severely restrict water usage by large mining operations in Alaska as well as limit their ability to store mine tailings and overburden.
Carroll isn’t the only industry official worried about the measure.
“The issue is not clean water; it is stopping mining. Effectively, this would eliminate large-scale mining in the state,” Alaska Miners Association executive director Steve Borell said in mid-October.
Art Hackney, a consultant working for the anti-Pebble Renewable Resource Coalition, sought certification of the initiative from the state earlier this year. Though denied by the lieutenant governor, the measure won approval on appeal in Alaska Superior Court.
Supporters have until Jan. 15 to gather required signatures to have the initiative brought before Alaska voters next August.
Pebble Partnership vows to protect environmentCarroll, a 25-year mining veteran who took the top job at Anglo American in March, said the Pebble Partnership is a limited partnership formed when Anglo American bought a 50 percent share in the project from Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd. by committing $1.425 billion to its development.
Anglo American has operations in 35 countries, while Vancouver-based junior Northern Dynasty has invested $160 million, so far, in discovering and developing Pebble. Pebble Partnership will operate the mine project.
Carroll said Pebble Partnership is committed to protecting the environment, and the company will establish an independent panel of scientists to keep a close eye on the work done at Pebble, in particular water quality.
“Pebble must apply the world’s best and most advanced science” when it comes to environmental issues, she said
Carroll said Pebble Partnership will launch the Bristol Bay Sustainable Fisheries Fund to support community-led projects aimed at enhancing social and economic impacts of Bristol Bay’s world-class fisheries. The fund will be administered by an independent company with the goal of promoting the health and sustainability of the fisheries, she said.
Carroll also said the Partnership will “recruit, first and foremost, Alaskans to manage, run and work for the company.” Pebble’s economic impact would be felt by all Alaskans, she added.
Pebble resource continues to growDrill results for 2007 have expanded the Pebble East deposit, the deeper, higher-grade portion of the Pebble project. The deposit, which contains an estimated 42.6 billion pounds of copper, 39.6 million ounces of gold and 2.7 billion pounds of molybdenum, runs more than 9,000 feet north-south and is open to both the northwest and southwest. Recent assay results extended the north edge of the deposit by 600 feet.
Crews completed nearly 100,000 feet of drilling this year to better define the estimated 3.7 billion-ton resource at Pebble East and assist in mine planning.
“The first order of business is to get that Pebble East drilled off as rapidly as we can so that we can see how the whole project fits together,” Northern Dynasty Executive Chairman Bob Dickinson told the Denver Gold Forum in September.
“Pebble East is one of the world’s great metal deposits,” Dickinson said.