Critics of a copper prospect in the Bristol Bay region who fear it could become a smaller version of its giant neighbor, Pebble, have launched an early campaign to stop it.
The so-called Groundhog prospect follows the same geological belt that supports Pebble, the proposed massive open-pit gold and copper mine a few miles to the south. Pebble has bitterly divided pro-development and conservation forces for years.
But unlike Pebble, an Alaska Native village corporation owns part of the Groundhog mineral claims on state land. That’s not enough for opponents, who earlier this week said they oppose any mining in a watershed that supports one of the world’s most important wild salmon fisheries.
The opposition extends to nearby Nondalton, a village of 150 less than 10 miles from where some of the exploration drilling for Groundhog would occur. It’s also home to the Kijik Corp., the Native village corporation that owns 49 percent of project owner Chuchuna Minerals Co.
Alaska Earth Sciences, a geological consulting firm in Anchorage, owns the remainder of Chuchuna, a company created in 2014.The mining company and its owners are seeking state approval for a five-year exploration plan that would punch 13 sampling boreholes into the tundra. The drilling could start as early as this summer at the 40,000-acre prospect about 200 miles southwest of Anchorage.
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