Promoters of the Pebble project say they have partnered with a subsidiary of Arctic Slope Regional Corp. to enhance future Alaska Native contracting opportunities at the proposed mine near the headwaters of Bristol Bay in Southwest Alaska.
In a statement issued June 13, Northern Dynasty Minerals, Ltd., in Vancouver, British Columbia, said ASRC Energy Services consultants would lead a collaborative business development planning initiative to include Alaska Native village corporations with land holdings near the project site, and who have had contract relationships with the Pebble Limited Partnership in the past. The PLP is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Canadian mining firm.
Tom Collier, chief executive officer of the Pebble Partnership, said the PLP has had a local contracting and local employment preference for the past decade or more to ensure that the project provides meaningful benefits for local people. As the project moves forward, it is time for PLP to invest in a more formalized business development program to ensure that Alaska Native village corporations in that region will have the experience and capacity necessary to provide contract services when this project advances to construction and operations, Collier said.
The Bristol Bay Native Corp. responded quickly, restating that the Bristol Bay region remains overwhelmingly opposed to the proposed mine.
BBNC’s deep-seated opposition to Pebble reflects the determination of our shareholders and board that the proposed mine, in any economically feasible configuration, would have irreversible detrimental impacts on the waters, fisheries, way of life, and fishing-based economy of the region, BBNC said.
Northern Dynasty’s announcement comes as the multi-million dollar Bristol Bay wild Alaska sockeye salmon harvest is getting underway. The fishery is critical to the region’s commercial, sport and subsistence fisheries economies.
“Kings recently arrived in Bristol Bay,” said Joseph Chythlook, chairman of the board of BBNC. “With the arrival of those fish, the people of the region anxiously await another commercial and subsistence fishing season. Our lives and livelihood are based on fishing. We will not allow our economy and culture to be displaced by foreign mining interests. We are and will always be ‘fish first,” he said.
BBNC cited the PLP announcement as “another unfortunate example of PLP’s efforts to misrepresent the opinions of the people of the Bristol Bay region.
ASRC represents an area of Alaska that is nearly 1,000 miles from Bristol Bay, and its participation in the Pebble Project has no bearing on an dis not reflective of the attitudes and interests of the people who will be most affected by the proposed mine, BBNC said.