Alaska remains a mining state. And the salmon will have to rely on perpetual water treatment to keep ’em healthy.
Currently the news is that Ballot Measure 4 is failing. That is the ballot in Alaska that was designed to stop the Pebble Mine without naming the mine. That is the ballot so full of spelling mistakes and bad strategy, that everybody from the State Governor to the majority of Alaskans rejected it (thirty-eight thousand to thirty thousand votes?)
We will never know if they rejected the ballot because of confusion—people tend to vote no when they are confused. We will never know if they rejected the ballot because they believe their laws are good enough–who likes to admit your current laws are inadequate when you have used them for so long to your benefit. And we will never know if they rejected it because they actually do choose mining over salmon fishing.
One report warns that results from Bristol Bay where the salmon are and the mine would be are not yet in. But the “cities” of Alaska have decided to expand. For there will be a new city to support the mine. I hope they do not call it Citta Pebble. Maybe Ballot Ladra City in honor of yesterday’s vote?
The fight over the Pebble Mine will of course continue. The ore body is just too big to ignore. Anglo American is too desperate to make it succeed. The salmon are too sacred to ignore.
This fight will continue to be a classic—the making of mining history before our very eyes. Now at least with the silly strategy of effect versus affect out of the way, we can concentrate on an honest discussion about South African colonization of Alaska, mining jobs for fishermen, recipies for sea-bred salmon versus farm-bred salmon, and the rights of aboriginals.
Some news reports state that the “mine is not designed.” That is rubbish. If you could get into the offices of Anglo American, Northern Dynasty, or Knight Piesold, I bet you would find that design is far advanced. The layout of the tailings impoundment and the waste rocks dumps are already public knowledge. True they may not yet have completed the analysis that tells how much the embankments will move in the likely earthquake, or how big an earthquake it will take to fail the dams. But that will not take long. I have done such calculations in less time than it will take to mount a new ballot free of spelling mistakes.
I can only repeat what I have long written in this regard. In presenting the mine to the public, Anglo must tell the public how they will manage the mine after it is closed. There is no doubt in my mind they can manage it during operation so that there is a low risk of a spill that will kill all the fish. Of course they must quantify this risk and not say “It cannot happen; it will not happen.” That is sustained verbal BS.
Anglo must tell the pubic how, one hundred and two hundred years after the mine is closed, future generations will “maintain” the slimes dams and the acid generating rock dumps. They must tell how they will be god-like enough to ensure geomorphic stability of these waste piles through all eternity to the benefit of Citta Pebble.
None of us will be there. But civilizations last much longer than the individual life-time. I recommend that before any Alaskan decides in a new ballot, he and she should go take a European tour to learn that things built two and three hundred years ago are still in use. That in fact things built one and two thousand years ago are still around and in use—mostly for tourism, but still generating money.
Future decisions about the mine do have implications well beyond our life times, and well into a future which it is hard to envisage in a natural setting. Now is the time for Alaskans to take a look at the wider world beyond their borders. They are caught up in a battle that is worthy of Cecil Rhodes. I mean look at Kimberly, the Witwatersrand, and Zimbabwe, all the results of his mining ambitions and success. The spirit of Cecil Rhodes presides over this debate and prayers to the native spirits will not suffice.
My only sadness is that, even with the best luck around, I will not live the long time this fascinating story will take to play out.