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Environment

Pebble’s application for a Southwest Alaska copper and gold mine is now public

  • Author: Alex DeMarban
  • Updated: January 6, 2018
  • Published January 5, 2018

An aerial view of a work camp in the area of the proposed Pebble mine on August 27, 2013 (Bill Roth/ADN)

A federal agency published Pebble Limited Partnership's long-awaited application to build a controversial copper and gold mine on state land in Southwest Alaska on Friday, providing details about the massive project requiring a new port, natural gas pipeline, roads and other facilities.

Construction will take about four years at the prospect some 200 miles southwest of Anchorage, straddling the headwaters of the giant Bristol Bay salmon fishery.

That work won't begin until all permits are awarded, the application notes.

A first step in the permitting process occurred in late December, when Pebble Limited Partnership filed the application with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which has jurisdiction over the project's impact to federal waters.

The application, with its maps, diagrams and other details, is hundreds of pages long. Pebble is now pursuing a scaled-down project compared to an earlier concept. Both ideas have generated fierce resistance from fishermen, Alaska Native subsistence users and other concerned citizens.

Construction will be a colossal effort.

A pipeline crossing Cook Inlet about 90 miles will deliver natural gas for fuel.

A port will be built on the west side of Cook Inlet to move materials. An ice-breaking ferry will cross Iliamna Lake, reducing the need for new roads. Ferry terminals will be built on the north and south sides of the lake.

The project advanced this year under the Trump administration, after stalling during the Obama era because of environmental concerns. Pebble provided some details of its new plan in October.

Other details in the permit application:

— Pebble will mine up to 90 million tons annually.

— About 1.1 billion tons of mineralized rock and 100 million tons of waste rock will be mined over the project's life. Pebble has pegged the life of this proposal at 20 years.

— The mine will annually produce about 600,000 tons of copper-gold concentrate and 15,000 tons of molybdenum concentrate, which is used in steel alloys.

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