Senator's letter highlights lack of mine plan

In a July 1 letter to the Pebble Limited Partnership, Northern Dynasty Minerals and Anglo American, Senator Lisa Murkowski has asked developers of the proposed Pebble mine to set – and stick to – a timeline for a project plan and permit applications.

“The time has come to tell Alaskans whether and how you plan to proceed,” wrote Murkowski, who also detailed a decade of delays and contradictory statements developers have made referencing a project plan or upcoming permit application. None has yet materialized, though PLP has repeatedly asked stakeholders to hold off judging its project prior to the release of an official mine plan.

So, what's taking PLP so long? In a 2012 interview,PLP spokesman Mike Heatwole told Pebble Watch that both the complexity of the plan and developers’ wishes to present the information community by community,in an easy-to-understand format, were factors.

“The plan isn’t just about how the mine will be built; it also includes other components, such as closure and long-term monitoring, said Heatwole. “We’re … spending significant time working our way through closure,” he said. Even then, said Heatwole, the plan won’t be complete, but will change in response to technical and public feedback. “It’s helpful for folks to understand that the project that gets initially rolled out and put into permitting is not a final.”

In her recent letter, Murkowski reminded developers that she is in opposition to any possible action the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency might take to protect the Bristol Bay watershed prior to the permitting process, but said that failure to describe the Pebble project or submit a permit application has left communities frustrated, anxious and confused instead of optimistic about the opportunities the Pebble project might bring.

According to news reports, John Shively, PLP’s CEO, said he has plans to respond to Senator Murkowski directly regarding her concerns.

Read Murkowski’s letter

Read the Pebble Watch Guide: “Getting ready for the mine plan” (including our interview with Mike Heatwole)

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About Pebble Watch

Pebble Watch is an impartial, educational and fact-based initiative of the BBNC Land Department to disseminate information regarding the proposed Pebble Mine project to BBNC shareholders and interested parties. 

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