Archive | Alaska Mining

Alaska Natives and fishermen sue EPA for reversing Pebble Mine decision – by Richard Read (Los Angeles Times – October 8, 2019)

SEATTLE — Trump administration officials broke the law when they reversed course and gave a green light to a proposed copper and gold mine near Alaska’s Bristol Bay, mining opponents said in a lawsuit filed Tuesday.

Alaska Native, commercial fishing and economic development organizations said the Environmental Protection Agency’s decision July 30 to step aside and let the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers determine whether to permit the Pebble Mine was “arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion” and illegal.

The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Anchorage is the latest challenge to the project that the EPA’s Seattle branch criticized in written comments July 1 before abruptly reversing course, withdrawing the agency’s option to block the proposed open-pit copper and gold mine. Continue Reading →

How a salmon scientist got hooked into a battle over the world’s largest gold mine – by Warren Cornwall (Science Magazine – September 26, 2019)

It’s hard to think small in Alaska. The largest of the United States is home to North America’s highest mountain range. It’s a place where undammed rivers run more than 1000 kilometers, glaciers collapse into the ocean, and polar bears roam.

Daniel Schindler, however, is here hunting for something the size of a grain of rice. Crouching in tiny Allah Creek, hemmed in by alders and smeared in blood, he grasps a rotting sockeye salmon carcass and nearly decapitates the fish with a stroke of a carving knife.

With tweezers, he delves into a cavity of creamy goo tucked behind the brain and plucks out a sliver of what looks like bone. It is an otolith, a bit of calcium carbonate that sits within the inner ear and acts like an internal gyroscope, helping the fish orient its movements. Continue Reading →

Apple and Tiffany & Co. will source gold from miners who have committed to restore streams for fish ( – August 13, 2019)

There are hundreds of small and large placer mining operations in Alaska actively producing gold in the US. Placer mining sites sit along creeks and streams, giving miners the chance to re-mine for any nuggets or fine gold left over from the Yukon’s Klondike Gold Rush in the late 1890s.

Meanwhile, since 1991, 12 Pacific salmon runs have been listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). These routes that salmon use to make their run to their spawning beds each year are often adjacent to placer mining sites.

The causes for the ESA classification are not limited to mining. Add logging, urbanization, record wildfires and landslides in the region, and salmon runs don’t stand a chance. But RESOLVE, a nonprofit organization tackling some of the planet’s most critical challenges through innovative, unexpected partnerships, wants to fix that. Continue Reading →

Murkowski, Sullivan urge action on mine cleanup – by Peter Segall (Juneau Empire – August 5, 2019)

Juneau Empire

Alaska’s Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, both Republicans, on Monday hosted a number of state and federal agencies, local organizations and commissioners of the U.S.-Canada International Joint Commission for a round-table discussion of transboundary mining.

Among the organizations present were the Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska, Salmon Beyond Borders, Council of Alaska Producers, Alaska Miners Association and United Fishermen of Alaska.

Government organizations present were the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Forest Service, Alaska Department of Natural Resources, Alaska Department of Fish and Game and Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Continue Reading →

Alaska mine developer Northern Dynasty wins U.S. EPA reprieve, shares soar – by Nichola Saminather (Reuters Canada – July 30, 2019)

TORONTO (Reuters) – The Trump administration said on Tuesday it would lift an Obama-era restriction on the world’s biggest undeveloped gold and copper resource owned by Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd, sending the Canadian company’s shares soaring.

Under former U.S. President Barack Obama, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2014 proposed limits on large-scale mining in Alaska’s Bristol Bay watershed, citing environmental concerns. Under President Donald Trump, the EPA has dismantled scores of environmental rules and Trump rejects mainstream climate science.

Northern Dynasty’s site is near Lake Iliamna in southwestern Alaska between the headwaters of two rivers that drain into Bristol Bay, and is known for its huge salmon runs, wilderness and abundant brown bears. Continue Reading →

U.S. senators to Horgan: clean up B.C.’s mining mess – by Sarah Cox (The Narwhal – June 13, 2019)

The Narwhal

Eight American senators have written to B.C. Premier John Horgan urging him to address downstream contamination from the province’s metal and coal mines.

The letter — an unprecedented joint undertaking from all senators from the four states bordering the province, including both Republicans and Democrats — outlines concerns about potential environmental and economic impacts from B.C. mines that pollute rivers flowing into the U.S.

“As you know, Alaska, Washington, Idaho and Montana have tremendous natural resources that need to be protected against impacts from B.C. hard rock and coal-mining activities near the headwaters of shared rivers, many of which support environmentally and economically significant salmon populations,” the senators wrote in the two-page letter, released Thursday. Continue Reading →

No viable substitute for critical chromium – by Shane Lasley (North of 60 Mining News – May 25, 2019)

Stainless-steel ingredient mined in Alaska during both World Wars

A vital ingredient in stainless steel and superalloys, chromium is considered by the United States Geological Survey as “one of the nation’s most important strategic and critical materials.”

“Because there is no viable substitute for chromium in the production of stainless steel and because the United States has small chromium resources, there has been concern about domestic supply during every national military emergency since World War I,” the USGS explains.

Rich chromite deposits on Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula were able to ease some of these concerns by providing a domestic supply of chromite, the only mineral of chromium metal, to help fill America’s increased demand for chromium during both World Wars. Continue Reading →

House Fisheries urges pressure on B.C. over transboundary mining – by Jacob Resneck (Alaska Public Media – May 1, 2019)

Alaska Public Media

A legislative committee heard from mine critics on both sides of the border during a Tuesday hearing in Juneau. It’s part of an effort to pressure British Columbia to tighten its mining regulations to reduce the threat of pollution from transboundary mines.

After hearing exclusively from mine critics, Rep. Louise Stutes, R-Kodiak, said the House Fisheries Committee’s 90-minute hearing on transboundary mining wasn’t meant to be anti-mine.

“We are simply asking our neighbors across the border to adhere to best and safe practices when mining in our shared watersheds,” the committee’s chairwoman said, “which is clearly something they have a poor track record with.” Continue Reading →

Opinion: Trump’s EPA wants to put a toxic mine in pristine Alaska. What could go wrong? – by Kim Heacox (The Guardian – April 22, 2019)

Pebble Mine is just the latest story of greedy men exploiting nature for profit, and leaving us with the nasty side-effects

Back in my youth, while in Montana, I came across Berkeley Pit, called “the richest hill on earth.” There, churches and historic neighborhoods were bulldozed to expand the pit so greedy men could make their fortunes mining copper, silver and gold.

After the riches were extracted, and problems arose, those men absolved themselves of any wrongdoing, and left. Over time, the mine closed and the pit began to fill with an acidic brew so toxic that when snow geese landed there, they died.

As it threatened Montana’s groundwater, the pit became an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) superfund site that would cost American taxpayers billions of dollars for generations. Continue Reading →

[Alaska Mining] Owner, Former Mining Exec Spar Over Pebble Mine’s Economics – by Stephen Lee (Bloomberg News – April 2, 2019)

  • Richard Borden, longtime Rio Tinto employee, says Pebble can’t be profitable
  • Pebble says Borden biased, paid by environmental group

The owners of the planned Pebble Mine in Alaska are firing back against a longtime mining executive who raised eyebrows when he said the project would lose $3 billion over its 20-year lifespan.

Richard Borden’s prediction that the mine would produce only a small amount of low-grade minerals has sparked controversy because he admits he was paid by an environmental group to write his analysis, even though he is widely seen as pro-business after spending 23 years at British mining giant Rio Tinto Plc.

Borden’s prognosis could scare off potential Pebble investors at a time when the company appears to be trying to raise funds. Twice in the last month, the firm has sold large blocks of shares, saying it needed the money to fund an environmental impact study and for “enhanced outreach and engagement with political and regulatory offices.” Continue Reading →

[Alaska Mining] Pebble project draft study fuels Legislature debate – by Steve Quinn ( – April 1, 2019)

The merits of a draft environmental impact statement on the proposed Pebble Mine project near Bristol Bay – the headwaters for one of the world’s largest salmon fisheries – are being debated in the state Capitol.

The Pebble Partnership’s 20-year plan for its planned copper mine is under review by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. On Monday the House Resources Committee heard from the project’s critics, who say any mine in the area represents a threat to one of the state’s most valuable and abundant renewable resources.

Critics have called the study incomplete with “tenuous assumptions,” and a failure for assuming “no important cumulative risks.” They say it also “dismisses many environmental risks, including the risk of a tailings dam failure,” thereby jeopardizing one of the world’s most prolific sockeye salmon fisheries. Continue Reading →

Opinions: Don’t buy the alarmism about the Pebble Mine – by Ron Thiessen (Anchorage Daily News – March 24, 2019)

Ron Thiessen is President and CEO of Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd., owner of the Pebble Limited Partnership and the Pebble Project.

There’s at least one thing I can agree on with the Bristol Bay lodge owners who recently published an op-ed in the Anchorage Daily News. Well, maybe two.

The lodge owners faithfully report in the opening paragraph of their screed: “The most important document on the Pebble Project’s path to a key permit to mine … has been released by the Army Corps of Engineers.” They go on to say, quite rightly, “that document, the draft environmental impact statement, is often considered the linchpin of permitting.”

These things are exactly correct. But from that point forward, the views and opinions of the ardent anti-mining authors don’t only diverge from mine. They diverge sharply, even radically, from the professional judgment of the independent engineers and scientists employed by the US Army Corps of Engineers as expressed in the Pebble draft EIS. Continue Reading →

Opinions: Pebble Mine draft environmental impact statement fails Alaskans – by Daren Erickson, John Holman, Brian Kraft, Nanci Morris Lyon, Dan Michels, Phil Shoemaker, Tia Shoemaker (Anchorage Daily News – March 9, 2019)

Daren Erickson operates Enchanted Lake Lodge (King Salmon/Eagle River). John Holman operates No See Um Lodge (Kvichak River/Wasilla). Brian Kraft operates Alaska Sportsman’s Lodge (Igiugig/Anchorage). Nanci Morris Lyon operates Bear Trail Lodge (King Salmon). Dan Michels operates Crystal Creek Lodge (King Salmon/Wasilla). Phil Shoemaker and Tia Shoemaker operate Grizzly Skins of Alaska (Kejulik River/Wasilla).

The most important document on the Pebble Project’s path to a key permit to mine the headwaters of Bristol Bay has been released by the Army Corps of Engineers and utterly fails the people of Alaska.

That document, the draft environmental impact statement, is often considered the linchpin of permitting because it should outline the risks and options for safely advancing or altering a project. However, in this document, the Corps blatantly ignored risks and Alaskan concerns, seemingly content to push forward a mine that Alaskans have said time and again we don’t want.

Pebble’s draft EIS fails to meet basic standards of scientific rigor in a region that demands the opposite. There are myriad ways to back this up, but here is what rises to the top for us. Continue Reading →

Northern Dynasty raises $10 million to develop Alaska Pebble project – by Cecilia Jamasmie ( – March 13, 2019)

Northern Dynasty Minerals (TSX:NDM) has entered into a bought deal financing with Cantor Fitzgerald Canada to raise $10 million that will allow the miner to further advance its Pebble copper-gold-silver project in Alaska.

The deal prices the company’s shares at 64 Canadian cents, a 13.5% discount to the stock’s price before the financing was announced.

The Canadian miner has also granted the underwriters an over-allotment option to acquire up to an additional 2.34 million-plus shares, which could raise another $1.5 million. Continue Reading →

Controversial Alaska gold-copper mine moves step closer to approval – by Yereth Rosen (Reuters U.S. – February 20, 2019)

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (Reuters) – The world’s biggest undeveloped gold and copper mining project, planned in southwestern Alaska near the largest fishery for sockeye salmon globally, moved a step closer to approval on Wednesday after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released a draft environmental impact statement.

The Pebble Mine would produce 70 million tons of gold, molybdenum and copper ore a year and create a pit 1,970 feet (600 meters) deep. A new road, pipeline and power plant would be built, according to the mine plan.

The site is near Lake Iliamna in southwestern Alaska between the headwaters of two rivers that drain into Bristol Bay. The Corps’ draft statement came after public meetings that began last April to hear views from tribes and local communities about the potential benefits and environmental risks of the project. Continue Reading →