Groups press Signet on Pebble Mine issue
November 16, 2011
Read this article on the publishing site
Dillingham, Alaska--Just ahead of the holiday season, Alaska Natives, commercial fishermen and mining reform group Earthworks are attempting to apply public-relations pressure to Signet Jewelers over a controversial mine project in Alaska.
The groups took out a full-page advertisement in the western edition of The New York Times on Monday asking why Signet, the parent company of Kay Jewelers and Jared the Galleria of Jewelry, hasn’t signed the Bristol Bay Protection Pledge. Earthworks Bonnie Gestring told National Jeweler that the groups expect to run the ad again but haven’t decided on a media outlet.
Signed by more than 50 jewelers from around the world, including Tiffany & Co. and Signet competitor Zale Corp., the pledge vows to boycott gold from the proposed Pebble Mine in Alaska, a project of Anglo American plc and Canadian miner Northern Dynasty.
“Fifty leading jewelers vow to protect the world’s richest salmon fishery. Why doesn’t the world’s largest jeweler join them?” the ad states.
The organizations said they have attempted numerous times to engage Signet on the issue via phone calls and letters and have invited Signet to meet with native Alaskan leaders and technical experts about the project.
David Bouffard, a spokesman for Sterling Jewelers Inc., Signet’s U.S. subsidiary, said it hasn’t signed the pledge because it doesn’t get involved in single-mine issues.
“Signet is extremely supportive of responsible mining as evidenced by our signing onto Earthworks’ ‘Golden Rules’ in 2006,” he said. “We were one of the first to do so and our continuing high-profile work in the responsible jewelry practices area is evidence of our leadership role over the years. For example, in 2005 we were a founding, and are now a certified, member of the Responsible Jewellery Council, actively serving on its board and committees. We remain an ally with Earthworks in its fundamental goals for responsible mining initiatives but do not engage on single-mine issues because we are not qualified to do so.”
Located in the Bristol Bay watershed in southwest Alaska, the proposed Pebble Mine has been a source of controversy for the last four years. Those opposed to the mine, which would be the largest open-pit copper and gold mine in North America, say it would pollute the watershed, thereby deteriorating the quality of life for area residents and harming the wild salmon fishery downstream.
In August 2008, Tiffany & Co. held a screening of the Pebble Mine documentary Red Gold in New York.
Mine proponents claim the project will bring a much-needed economic boost to the area and that the Pebble site can be mined without negatively impacting the surrounding environment.
Those groups that are against Pebble scored a victory last month when voters in southwest Alaska narrowly approved an anti-mine ballot initiative. The legality of the ballot measure, however, is still being debated in Alaska Superior Court.
For more information:
Earthworks: Alaskans: Why Won’t Kay and Jared Jewelers Pledge to Shun Anglo’s Dirty Gold? Press release.