Pebble urges due process by new EPA head
Letter updates Regan on Alaska project, calls for fair review North of 60 Mining News – April 6, 2021
Last updated 4/6/2021 at 9:53am
Pebble Limited Partnership is urging recently confirmed U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan to support a full and fair permitting process for the Pebble mine project in Southwest Alaska.
This project hosts 6.5 billion metric tons of measured and indicated resources averaging 0.4% (57 billion lb) copper, 0.34 grams per metric ton (71 million ounces) gold, 240 parts per million (3.4 billion lb) molybdenum, 1.7 g/t (345 million oz) silver, and 0.41 ppm (2.6 million kg) rhenium; plus 4.5 billion metric tons of inferred resource averaging 0.25% (25 billion lb) copper, 0.25 g/t (36 million oz) gold, 226 ppm (2.2 billion lb) molybdenum, 1.2 g/t (170 million oz) silver and 0.36 ppm (1.6 million kg) rhenium.
This makes Pebble the world's largest known undeveloped deposit of copper needed for electric vehicles and renewable energy, the critical mineral rhenium, as well as gold.
This precious, critical, and energy metals project, however, has been the target of opposition from environmental and tribal groups due to its proximity to the world-class Bristol Bay salmon fishery.
After nearly three years of permitting under the National Environmental Policy Act, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers denied federal permits needed to develop a mine at Pebble. This negative record of decision seemed to be in conflict with an earlier final environmental impact statement by the lead agency for Pebble permitting that found a mine can be developed at the world-class deposit without damage to the Bristol Bay fishery while also making significant contributions to the economy of the region, as well as the state as a whole.
"Thus, the definitive record for the Pebble Project shows it can be developed responsibly, without harm to the Bristol Bay fishery, and for the social and economic benefit of communities closest to the proposed operation, the vast majority of whose citizens are Alaska Natives," Pebble Partnership CEO John Shively penned in a letter to Regan.
Further details on the socioeconomic benefits expected from a mine at Pebble can be read at Pebble assails Corps economic findings in the March 19, 2021 edition of North of 60 Mining News.
Citing inconsistencies in the Army Corps' findings and unprecedented mitigation requirements, Pebble Partnership has appealed the Army Corps' decision to deny the Clean Water Act Section 404 permit for the proposed Pebble Mine.
Pebble's letter to Regan provides the new EPA administrator with an overview of the federal permitting for Pebble, including a summary of the broad federal and state regulatory agency, tribal, and public participation during the 2.5-year EIS process.
In addition to providing background on Pebble and offering to meet with Regan and his staff, the Pebble Partnership urges the administrator to support its rights for due process under the law.
"As someone who has spoken directly about the criticality of fair process and the need for data and facts to show the path for important regulatory decisions, we hope you will advocate for this comprehensive NEPA review process as the correct way to sort through complex technical matters," wrote Shively.