Report highlights risks of Pebble to Bristol Bay

Cordoba Times

August 10, 2012
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A new report from a nonprofit group dedicated to protecting the environment from the impact of irresponsible mineral and energy development highlights the risks of proposed large-scale copper mining near the Bristol Bay watershed.

“Our research demonstrates that pipeline spills and uncontrolled mine seepage are a frequent problem at copper mines operating in the U.S. today,” said Bonnie Gestring of Earthworks, which released the document Aug. 6. “Pebble says they can prevent these problems through technology, but the record says otherwise.”

The Earthworks report examines 14 of the 16 copper porphyry mines that represented 89 percent of domestic copper production in 2010, the most recent data on copper production available from the U.S. Geological Survey.

Copper porphyry is a form of copper deposit that is often characterized as low-grade and often contains other minerals such as gold and molybdenum.

The report also found that 100 percent of the mines had pipeline spills or other accidental releases, and that 13 of the 14 mines failed to control contaminated mine seepage, resulting in significant water quality impacts.

Four of the 14 mines also experienced a partial failure of the tailings impoundment, the report said.

“Copper porphyry deposits are notorious for acid mine drainage and other water quality impacts,” Gestring said.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently released a study of the risks of developing the Pebble deposit. That study found that the mine footprint alone would result in the direct loss of up to 87 miles of streams that provide important habitat for salon. It also predicted the likelihood of additional serious impacts from pipeline breaks, and the failure to capture and treat mine seepage.

A link to the latest report is at


Tagged with: pebble, copper, bristol bay, alaska

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