Pebble Mine, Alaska
Alaska’s Bristol Bay region, one of America’s most spectacular places and home to the world’s largest runs of sockeye salmon, is being targeted for large-scale mineral development. The Pebble gold and copper mine--planned for the headwaters of Bristol Bay’s best wild salmon rivers--would be the largest open pit mine in North America. It would scar this wilderness landscape forever and could destroy the salmon that make Bristol Bay unique.
Impacts to Communities and Wildlife
The Pebble open pit gold and copper mine puts at risk the most spectacular and abundant ecosystem in North America. The region’s pure waters, healthy habitat, and breathtaking wilderness setting generate millions of dollars for the local economy by sustaining a thriving commercial fishery, attracting trophy salmon and trout anglers from all over the world, and supporting the centuries-old subsistence lifestyle of Alaska Natives.
Preliminary plans indicate that:
- The Pebble mine will discharge billions of tons of tailings into two enormous impoundments built directly on top of streams, ponds, and wetlands in the headwaters of some of the most productive salmon rivers on earth.
- The larger of the two impoundments will include three earthen dams, each taller than the world’s largest concrete dam, the Three Gorges dam in China. Both impoundments will contain a vast lake of toxic slurry hundreds of feet deep.
- The mine site is located in a seismically active area and experiences frequent magnitude 6-7 earthquakes.
- A dam failure, even decades from now, would be environmentally devastating, funneling mine pollution directly into the river systems that have been the life blood of Bristol Bay for centuries.
Mine Tailings and Clean Water Don't Mix
One of the most important components of a healthy, sustainable fishery is clean water. Sockeye, in particular, require not only pristine rivers and creeks to spawn, but also large, freshwater lake systems where they spend time as juveniles before heading to sea.
For thousands of years, Bristol Bay has been untouched by development, providing optimal conditions for returning salmon. Up to forty million sockeye salmon return to this watershed each year, contributing over $400 million per year to the Alaskan economy.
Toxic by-products are an inevitable result of open pit mines like the proposed Pebble Mine. This puts salmon at great risk, as they are highly sensitive to the slightest increases in certain metals like copper, interfering with their sense of smell, direction, and ability to evade predators.
Bristol Bay’s salmon are the foundation of a vibrant community of wildlife that includes bears, wolves, moose, caribou, and waterfowl.
We Can Close the Mining Loopholes
As a nation, we decided that industries should not be able to profit from polluting the waters that sustain America's communities, fish, and wildlife. Help us close the two loopholes in the Clean Water Act that encourage irresponsible mining practices and irresponsible mines such as the Pebble Mine in Alaska.
Urge the EPA and Army Corps to protect our nation's waters and wildlife by closing the mining loopholes in the Clean Water Act. >>