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January 15, 2011

Pebble dialogue opens with wrong question

Today, the Pebble Limited Partnership will unveil its latest round of tactics in its quest for North America's largest copper and gold mine, planned for the headwaters of Bristol Bay's prolific salmon fishery. It appears that by hiring The Keystone Center, PLP is doing little more than attempting to purchase social acceptance under the guise of public outreach. As noted by Keystone representative Dr. Todd Bryan, Keystone will kick off its dialogue process on the proposed Pebble mine with an independent panel titled "Responsible Large-Scale Mining: Global Perspectives."
Yet, while they tout the idea of dialogue process, their approach is flawed from the start. First, they are beginning with the wrong question. Rather than asking if a mine of this sort should be built in a place like Bristol Bay, Keystone is asking "how to build a mine in Bristol Bay?" If PLP and Keystone were truly interested in public dialogue and community mediation, then they would begin with the first question, not the latter one.
The question for discussion here should not focus on whether it might theoretically be possible to build a "responsible mine" in Bristol Bay. The issue with Pebble is that it creates risks to the prolific salmon fishery of Bristol Bay and the communities that depend upon those resources. As we have seen before from other industries, risks exist and, whether intended or not, accidents happen. Take the Gulf oil spill as an example. More concerning, however, is the reality that if PLP were truly interested in responsible mining, they wouldn't have violated water use permits more than 45 times throughout their exploration process.

Read the rest of this great article at the Anchorage Daily News 

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