Don't trust Northern Dynasty Minerals

Letter to the editor

Posted: Friday, March 17, 2006

I write to commend Sen. Ted Stevens for his recent thoughtful and courageous comments in opposition to the proposed Pebble gold and copper mine, which is, for many reasons, a really bad idea.

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As anyone who has been following this issue knows, the mine as it is proposed would be located about 19 miles from Lake Iliamna in the headwaters of Bristol Bay. Open-pit gold and copper mines of the scale envisioned in this case have a horrible record of causing lasting environmental and social damage by, among other things, poisoning water through mine-tailing leaks (cyanide), sulfuric acid run-off from waste rock piles, toxic heavy metals and copper dust settling into the water. It's not hard to imagine what such toxins would do to the incredibly rich salmon and other wildlife populations in the region, to say nothing of the people who depend on these resources for their living and their way of life.

The corporate entity behind this plan, Northern Dynasty Minerals, is the subsidiary of a privately held Canadian mining outfit. They have been spending a lot of money through their so-called "Community Engagement Activities" to get people in the region to believe that they will be a great economic benefactor and partner if this mine were to go through. But the fact is, NDM is just the speculator in this deal - the front man - and they are hoping to sell their claim for big bucks to a massive mining operator if they can get the state to approve their mine proposal.

That's why they've hired almost every major lobbyist in Juneau to push for its approval. That's why they've vehemently opposed Rep. Mike Hawker's initiative that simply asks the Department of Natural Resources to do their job and look carefully at the long-term effects of the proposal on the region. That's why they are hyping the value of this mine to Wall Street investors, hedge funds and foreign interests such as Galahad Gold PLC in England - not the types of groups who tend to care that much if money from a development goes back into the community or if the state is fairly compensated for the resources removed.

The point is, any promises that the people at NDM are making to the communities right now are likely empty ones as it won't be around to keep them if the mine ever goes through.

This area is the very best and most beautiful Alaska and nature have to offer. What a mistake it would be to replace that with a huge barren mine scar, dead streams and rivers and depleted animal populations, and all so that a few foreign mining interests and big investors could get richer. Thank you, Sen. Stevens, for recognizing this, for safe-guarding the interests and resources of the people of Alaska, and for standing up to selfish Outside corporations to make sure that this doesn't happen.

Jim Neill


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