Gaping hole in Alaska proposed

North America’s largest mine proposed near Alaskan salmon fishery

Photo courtesy of Trout Unlimited

The high-profile Keystone XL oil-pipeline controversy has overshadowed the proposed construction of a massive copper-and-gold mine in close proximity to one of the most productive salmon fisheries in the world.

The mine, as proposed by the Pebble Limited Partnership, would be located near Alaska’s Bristol Bay (home to half the world’s sockeye salmon). At 14 square miles and 1,700 feet deep, it would be the largest mine in North America—20 times larger than all other Alaskan mines combined, according to The Washington Post.

Six Native Alaskan tribes have asked the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to block the project on grounds that it will violate the federal Clean Water Act by harming the region’s waterways, fish and wildlife. The EPA is a long way from making a final decision, hoping to complete a watershed-impact assessment by the end of the year.

The Pebble Limited Partnership has argued the operation would generate nearly 5,000 construction jobs and 2,750 permanent ones for Alaskans. However, Tim Bristol, the director of Trout Unlimited’s Alaska program, said that 14,000 jobs depend on a healthy salmon fishery.