U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski urged the Pebble Partnership to set a timeline and stick with it for the benefit of Alaskans waiting nearly a decade for the massive copper-gold project.
RENO (MINEWEB) – The Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, has urged the Pebble Partnership to release their mining plan for development of the Pebble copper-gold deposit in Southwest Alaska.
In a July 1st letter to Pebble Limited Partnership (PLP) CEO John Shivley, Anglo American CEO Mark Cutifani, and Northern Dynasty Minerals CEO Ron Thiessen, Murkowski said the partnership’s delay in describing the project and submitting permit applications has caused confusion and anxiety among Alaskans about the proposed mine, as well as allowed federal regulators to further muddy the water with several hypothetical mine scenarios.
Northern Dynasty and Anglo American are 50-50 partners in the massive project.
Murkowski said the partnership’s “failure to describe the project and submit permit applications” has deprived “relevant government agencies and all stakeholders of the specifics needed to make informed decisions.”
In her letter to the mining CEOs, Murkowski observed that Northern Dynasty asserted “at least as far back as Nov. 3, 2004” that submission of permit applications was imminent. By Aug. 12, 2005, another statement was issued, claiming that “a full permitting process for a port, access road and open pit mine [were] all slated to begin in 2006.”
Murkowski went on to cite other examples of news releases which claimed a proposed development plan would be finalized in 2009, and permits would be applied for in 2010. By 2010, Alaskans were told project permitting would be initiated in 2011. By May 2011, Alaskans were told the project would enter the permitting phase at the end of 2012.
On June of this year, a partnership representative indicated that the partnership hoped to have a project to take into permitting this year. A frustrated Murkowski observed Monday, “Yet today, after years of waiting, it is anxiety, frustration, and confusion that have become the norm in many communities – rather than optimism about the new economic opportunities that responsible development of the Pebble deposit might be able to deliver.”
The senator noted she has opposed the prospect of a pre-emptive veto of development of the project by the Environmental Protection Agency under Section 404(c) of the Clean Water Act, an action she asserted “would be purely based on speculation and conjecture.”
“As you know, I have been highly critical of EPA and protective of the due process that any entity considering investment in Alaska should be provided,” Murkowski said. “But your own actions have created uncertainty among the people I respect, and the time has come to tell Alaskans whether and how you plan to proceed.”
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