A Message from John Shively
Pebble Partnership CEO & Board Chair
Last updated 10/1/2020 at 3:34pm
I write today to share my perspective on the "Pebble Tapes," next steps for the project, and why I agreed to return to the Pebble Project as CEO.
Many have asked me why, at 77 years old, I chose to do this. Many also asked why I took on the challenge years ago when I left the cruise ship industry to lead Pebble for the first time. The answer is that I believe in the Project and what it represents for Alaskans. I also believe in the people who have worked so diligently to get us to this point. In my return to the Pebble Project, I have two initial goals: restore trust in the Project and work to finalize the federal Record of Decision (ROD).
What I saw on the "Pebble Tapes" does not reflect my values, nor does it reflect the values of the Pebble Team. We all work hard to represent the company in a respectful, honest and trustworthy way. Given the controversy and emotion (and sometimes unfair attacks) that have followed Pebble, this is not always easy. The people working on the Project, from our site staff to our corporate staff, have the utmost integrity - and I know all of them felt betrayed by what they saw expressed on those tapes. Much of the content was boastful, embellished, insensitive and stretched credulity to its breaking point.
I can write a lot of words to express my dismay for what I witnessed, but I also know that Alaskans will ultimately only respond to our actions. My core objective is to work one day at a time to earn back the trust that was shattered last week. I know it is a long haul, but long journeys begin with small steps. Our parent company, Northern Dynasty Minerals, unreservedly apologized to Alaskans last week - and I have echoed that apology in my conversations with staff and Alaskans since I agreed to return as CEO. Our former CEO correctly resigned following the revelations on the tapes. This was another step in righting the wrong we saw on the tapes.
Questions about how long mining will take place at Pebble have arisen. To begin, Pebble is one of the most significant mineral discoveries in the world. Based upon what is under the ground at Pebble, the Deposit could support many decades of mining. However, this is not what we took into permitting. We took a twenty-year plan into permitting that had to stand on its own. We have been clear from the outset that future opportunities would still exist at Pebble and one scenario for such future development was evaluated as reasonably foreseeable future action in the Environmental Impact Statement recently completed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). We have been equally clear that any future development at Pebble would have to go through its own full and robust permitting process. There are no specific future plans for mining at Pebble beyond the twenty-year plan currently in front of regulators.
My other core objective is to ensure the USACE has the information required to finalize the ROD for the Project. One of the key elements necessary for the USACE to accomplish this is the compensatory mitigation plan. We are on track to deliver a plan that meets the USACE's requirements, and when it is deemed complete, it will be published on the Project website.
The Project - a responsible plan to mine the Pebble Deposit for twenty years - remains a very good project. It will employ thousands of Alaskans both from the local communities to other corners of our state with well-paid, family wage jobs. It will be an economic engine for Southwest and Southcentral Alaska with the potential of putting hundreds of millions of dollars into the economy every year. It will make a major contribution to the state's budget - not nearly what our colleagues in the oil and gas industry contribute, but it will show what expanding Alaska's mineral sector can do for state coffers.
And, most importantly, mining can be done at Pebble without harm to the Bristol Bay fishery. The final Environmental Impact Statement reinforces this point. My fundamental principle when I started as CEO for Pebble in 2008 was that the project had to operate without harming the fishery or water resources of the region. I have sat through hundreds of hours of discussion and presentations that gave me the confidence the project can meet that goal. Now, we have a federal environmental review that reached the same conclusion.
My long history in Alaska has often focused on finding employment opportunities for our rural communities. I have seen time and again what a job means for someone living in rural Alaska. It is one of the most positive, transformative ways to improve someone's quality of life.
I told my staff that my door is always open, and that no one should ever hesitate to let me know what is on their minds. The same holds true for all Alaskans.