Alaskan mine site to be investigated following tribes’ petition

By agency reporter
16 Feb 2011

A huge open-pit mine planned for Bristol Bay in south-west Alaska is to be investigated by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) following mass opposition from local indigenous peoples.

Survival International, the NGO working for the rights of tribal people, report that following a petition signed by nine tribes from the region, the EPA will "conduct a scientific assessment of the Bristol Bay watershed to better understand how future large-scale development projects may affect water quality and… salmon fishery."

Bristol Bay is home to the world’s largest sockeye salmon runs which are "essential to the health, environment and economy of Alsaka", according to the EPA’s regional administrator, Dennis McLerran.

The Canadian company Northern Dynasty and London based Anglo American are backing the ambitious project to extract the region’s large deposits of copper, gold and molybdenum metals.

Locals fear that the mine will dump up to 10 billion tons of waste into the headwaters of the rivers, destroying the environment and salmon population that indigenous people have depended upon for thousands of years.

Earthworks, an NGO campaigning against the mine, said last week, "Despite this positive news, the campaign is far from over, and we will be continuing to build the pressure… encouraging more jewellers to sign the Bristol Bay Protection Pledge and working with parliamentarians and anglers (to prevent the mine.)"

[Ekk/4]

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