Alaska’s Pebble Mine contains about 1.3% of all the copper metal that has ever been produced or discovered in the world over the last 10,000 years. The mine also contains roughly 1.8% of all the precious gold metal ever produced and is also the largest rhenium deposit in the world.
Rhenium is considered to be a rare element and is used in jet engines, high octane fuels and other military applications. Because this rhenium deposit is domestically produced in the U.S., the military considers it to be vital to the long term security of the country.
Pebble Mine is also considered to be rare due to its mineral deposit composition and scale. It is reported that the last time mineral deposits of Pebble’s size were discovered in the United States was 1863.
The mine is an asset to the State of Alaska and is located in an ideal site for mining, that is, the mine is located in a flat and broad valley with no trees, and it is 1000 feet above sea level. In addition to this, there is no permafrost and the climate conditions of the area are temperate. With an adequate supply of water and a prime location away from any ecosystems, Pebble is the perfect site for mineral development.
However, developing the mine has not been easy. Since it was acquired by Northern Dynasty Minerals in 2001, the company ploughed in about $1 billion and more than ten years trying to ensure the mine lived up to expectations. Additionally, laws protect the Pebble Mine from resource nationalism, human rights abuse or political corruption that plague mineral properties from less developed nations. This only makes it harder to excavate the mine.
Northern Dynasty has spent close to $200 million studying the environment that surrounds the mine, exploring the optimal engineering design for the mine and engaging the community in various projects such as taking part in archaeological surveys and environmental baseline studies. The company wanted to ensure that the mine benefitted and respected both local and traditional knowledge.
Despite the political headwinds that the company ran into more than a decade ago that resulted in fear-based campaigns against Pebble’s development and hyper-politicization of the project, the company and the Pebble development project have persevered.
With the introduction of a forward-thinking state administration, the Pebble project which was published in July of this year, will be beneficial to all Alaskans; providing low-cost reliable power to villages and sharing mine royalties with locals. The development project will also create 2000 employment opportunities for the locals while showing how minerals can be extracted responsibly, not only economically and socially but also environmentally.
Experts say the entire mining sector, including entities like Bullfrog Gold Corp. (CSE: BFG) (OTCQB: BFGC) (FSE: 11B), agrees that the planned Pebble Mine project is a huge win for Northern Dynasty and the country at large.
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