Voters in southwest Alaska's Lake and Peninsula Borough are deciding whether to ban large-scale resource extraction activity, including mining, that would destroy or degrade salmon habitat. The measure is aimed squarely at Pebble Mine, the massive gold-and-copper prospect near the headwaters of Bristol Bay.
The mine is a joint venture of Canada-based Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd. and Anglo American plc of the United Kingdom
The companies have spent hundreds of millions of dollars scoping out the deposit, which Northern Dynasty has described as the largest undeveloped deposit of its type in the world, with the potential of producing 53 billion pounds of copper, 50 million ounces of gold and 2.8 billion pounds of molybdenum over nearly 80 years.
The mine would be directly above Iliamna Lake, the largest producer of sockeye salmon in the world.
This year, the commercial harvest of salmon was valued at nearly $138 million, which doesn't include fish caught by Alaska Natives for subsistence. The Bristol Bay Native Corp., which has more than 8,000 shareholders with ties to the region, is opposed to the mine.