R.I.P Pebble Mine?

The EPA’s final watershed report on the consequences that a large scale mine could have on Bristol Bay was released on Wednesday. As expected from earlier drafts of the report, its analysis is devastating for a project already on its last legs, as well as for other, potential, large-scale mining projects in the area.

Here’s the kicker:

Up to 94 miles of streams would be destroyed in just the build-out phase of the project, including losses of 5-22 miles of streams known to provide salmon spawning and rearing habitat; up to 5,350 acres of wetlands, ponds and lakes also would be lost due to the mine footprint.

That led the EPA to conclude that, “large-scale mining in the Bristol Bay watershed poses significant near- and long-term risk to salmon, wildlife and Native Alaska cultures.”

Mining giant Anglo American, perhaps anticipating this report, pulled out of the Pebble Partnership late last year. Now, that partnership only includes Northern Dynasty, whose stock closed on Wednesday afternoon hovered at about $1.37, down from a 52-week high of $4.14. Northern Dynasty’s sole asset is Pebble.

The proposed mining area was estimated to produce 80.6 billion pounds of copper, 107.4 million ounces of gold and 5.6 billion pounds of molybdenum.

In a statement, U.S. Sen. Mark Begich said that he’s reviewing the report. Begich walked a tightrope on Pebble. On one side was the environmental community, a group that he’s going to need support from in his upcoming reelection race. On the other side was the business community, a group that he couldn’t afford to alienate.

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com