After years of fighting, activists who have been seeking to prevent the informally proposed Pebble Mine in Alaska's Bristol Bay region -- home of the world's two most prolific salmon runs -- may finally have something to cheer about. One of the two foreign companies in the joint venture formed to explore the Pebble deposit, Anglo American, announced today that it will be withdrawing from the partnership at an expected cost of $300 million dollars.
Anglo American CEO Mark Cutifani stated,"despite our belief that Pebble is a deposit of rare magnitude and quality, we have taken the decision to withdraw following a thorough assessment of Anglo American’s extensive pipeline of long-dated project options. Our focus has been to prioritize capital to projects with the highest value and lowest risks within our portfolio, and reduce the capital required to sustain such projects during the pre-approval phases of development as part of a more effective, value-driven capital allocation model. We wish the project well through its forthcoming permitting process and express our thanks to all those who have supported Pebble and who recognize the opportunities and benefits that such an investment may bring to Alaska.”
After Anglo American's exit from the partnership is complete, the Pebble Limited Partnership (PLP) will be wholly owned by the remaining partner, Canada's Northern Dynasty Minerals. Northern Dynasty has indicated it has no plans to alter its efforts to develop the Pebble deposit into a large-scale open pit mine.
Northern Dynasty CEO Ron Thiessen commented "Northern Dynasty will again own 100% of one of the world's most important copper & gold resources and will have the benefit of $541 million worth of expenditures, which opens the door to a number of exciting possibilities for Northern Dynasty and its shareholders and the Pebble Project and its stakeholders. Northern Dynasty and the Pebble Partnership have both the expertise and resources necessary to advance the Pebble Project."
The informally proposed Pebble Mine debate has labored on for years as opponents and proponents argue over the environmental impacts and economic benefits that a mine such as Pebble would bring to the Bristol Bay region. Public pressure may have reached a pinnacle in recent months, however, as scientific evidence mounts that mining in the Bristol Bay region would pose a grave threat to the world's greatest runs of wild salmon. After the closing of the EPA public comment period regarding its draft risk assessment of large scale mining in the Bristol Bay region, it was reported that 77% of respondents were against a mine such as Pebble being constructed in the region.