Mark Hamilton, vice president of external affairs for the Pebble Limited Partnership, speaks to members of the Kenai and Soldotna Chambers of Commerce at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska on March 11, 2020. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)

Mark Hamilton, vice president of external affairs for the Pebble Limited Partnership, speaks to members of the Kenai and Soldotna Chambers of Commerce at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska on March 11, 2020. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)

Pebble representative pushes mine project at chamber luncheon

The Pebble Mine Project seeks to develop an open-pit mine in an area north of Iliamna Lake.

A representative for the Pebble Mine Project gave an update on the project to members of the Kenai and Soldotna Chambers of Commerce on Wednesday.

Mark Hamilton, vice president of external affairs for the Pebble Limited Partnership, spoke in general about responsible resource development in the state, but also pushed back against some of the criticisms that the mine project has received from environmental activists.

“We will constantly be dealing with protests of whatever development project we want to do,” Hamilton said. “We’ve been looking at this for 50 years. When we announced the building of the trans-Alaska pipeline, it was widely criticized. People said the caribou would go the way of the buffalo, the uncontrollable permafrost melting, earthquakes will turn it into a sprinkler system of crude oil, it’ll destroy Native culture, et cetera et cetera. That was 50 years ago. None of those things have happened.”

The Pebble Mine Project seeks to develop an open-pit mine that would extract copper, gold, molybdenum and other rare earth minerals in an area north of Iliamna Lake, according to their website. The stakeholders of the project are currently undergoing the federal permitting process with the Army Corps of Engineers, which plans to release the final version of the environmental impact statement for the project later this year. The draft version of the EIS is available for viewing at www.pebbleprojecteis.com.

One prominent criticism from environmental activists is that the draft version of the Environmental Impact Statement was rushed and that the Corps didn’t take enough into consideration when determining the impact of the mine on surrounding areas. Hamilton said that this was not the case, and that the investors of the project are the ones who would most like to see the process done right.

“Nobody wants the i’s dotted and the t’s crossed any more than the person who put in the permit,” Hamilton said. “That’s just a simple reality, a simple deduction.”

The plan for the scale of the mine has changed over the years, and Hamilton said that the Pebble Partnership has decided to reduce the size of the mine in the wake of this pressure. The mine is scheduled to operate for 20 years, which is also a reduction from the original proposal. Because of the reduced size, the mine will no longer be near the Upper Talarik Creek, Hamilton said.

Hamilton asserted this means that the mine will not have a chance to impact that waterway, which flows into Lake Iliamna.

The mine will not use cyanide to extract gold deposits, Hamilton said, and there will be no waste rock piles that would need to be submerged in water to avoid becoming acidic.

Hamilton also touched on the potential positive impact that the presence of the mine would have on communities in the Lake and Peninsula Borough. The road tariffs associated with the project, Hamilton said, would quadruple the borough’s budget, the mine would employ people from the area and the project would provide power to those communities at costs cheaper than what they currently pay.

Hamilton said that even though the Final EIS is expected to be released later this year, the process to acquire state permits could take another three years or more, meaning that any actual construction on the project will not be taking place any time soon.

“I like to tell people that a junior in high school today could get a master’s degree in mining and engineering before we produce our first piece of copper,” Hamilton said. “Pebble will fall into the same category that many many mines have, and that is, it will have taken more time to actually produce than the projected life of the mine. That’s how difficult it is to get a permit.”

More in News

Alaska State Troopers logo.
Soldotna man found dead in lake, troopers report

State Troopers were notified of a deceased person floating in Browns Lake

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
COVID hospitalizations, cases down from last week

The state reported no new resident deaths from COVID-19 this week

Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire
The Alaska Permanent Fund Corp. building in Juneau is scheduled to be the site where the board of trustees will select a new executive director on Monday, following the investigation into the firing of former CEO Angela Rodell last December being presented to state lawmakers on Wednesday.
Investigators: Permanent Fund CEO’s firing legal but departed from policy

Trustees acted legally, despite not following official policy, and governor didn’t influence decision

A fishing boat passes the Silversea cruise ship Silver Wind as the boat enters the Homer Harbor on Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022, in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)
Finding refuge

Silver Wind is one of two cruise ships to visit since pandemic.

Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly candidates Dil Uhlin, left, and Jesse Bjorkman participate in a candidate forum at the Soldotna Public Library on Monday, Sept. 26, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. Both candidates are running for the assembly’s Nikiski seat. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Nikiski assembly candidates talk borough issues at final municipal election forum

There are three candidates running for the assembly’s District 3 - Nikiski seat

Kenai Middle School Principal Vaughn Dosko gestures toward a cart used to provide school lunch services on Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2022, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
‘Critical needs’: Security concerns and lunch lines

Safety upgrades, more space sought at Kenai Middle

Soldotna Montessori Charter School Principal John DeVolld explains Montessori materials in a classroom at Soldotna Montessori Charter School on Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
‘Critical needs’: Soldotna Montessori maxes out

The relocation of Soldotna Montessori is included in a bond package on the Oct. 4 municipal election ballot

Engineer Lake Cabin can be seen in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge on Nov. 21, 2021. The United States Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service announced Friday, Sept. 23, 2022, that $14.4 million of a larger $37 million package will be used to build cabins in the Chugach and Tongass National Forests. (Photo by Erin Thompson/Peninsula Clarion)
Millions designated for cabins in Tongass, Chugach

$18 million is allocated to the construction and maintenance of cabins and historic buildings — of which $14.4 million is destined for Alaska

Puffin sits by a scratching tower in front of his main pad of buttons on Friday, Sept. 23, 2022, in Nikiski, Alaska. Owner Geri Litzen says Puffin can communicate by pressing different buttons on the pad to form sentences. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Puffin with the buttons

Verbose Nikiski cat earns TikTok followers

Most Read