Anglo American Dumps the Pebble Mine
By Joel Reynolds, September 16, 2013
Today Anglo American, a 50 percent partner in the Pebble Limited Partnership, announced that it is withdrawing from Pebble Mine – a giant gold and copper mine proposed at the headwaters of Bristol Bay, Alaska. The London-based mining giant finally recognized what Alaska Natives, Bristol Bay residents, commercial fishermen, sportsmen, lodge owners, chefs, jewelers, EPA scientists, NRDC and others have been saying for years: Pebble Mine poses too great of a risk.
Anglo American Chief Executive Mark Cutifani issued a statement lauding the “rare magnitude and quality” of the Pebble deposit, while also justifying Anglo’s plans to withdraw from the risky venture: “Our focus has been to prioritise 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.”
There is no question that Pebble Mine is a bad investment, replete with environmental, economic, operational, reputational, social, regulatory, and legal risks. Mitsubishi Corporation realized it in 2011 when it sold 100% of its interest in the Pebble project. Anglo American realized it only after spending $541 million trying to develop Pebble Mine.
Proposed at the headwaters of the world’s greatest wild salmon fishery, Pebble Mine would threaten the region’s internationally renowned salmon runs. Salmon are the economic, cultural, and ecological linchpin of the region, supporting a $1.5 billion annual commercial fishery that employ 14,000 workers. Salmon also sustain the culture, tradition, and spirituality of native communities that have relied on subsistence fishing for thousands of years, and they are food to a vast array of wildlife, including bears, eagles, seals and whales.