Pebble presentation focuses on the positive
Public opinion about the Pebble project in Alaska has been negative for some time. A 2012 poll showed 48% of Alaskans opposed to the development, with 58% opposed in January 2017.
Acknowledging the importance of local support, executives at Northern Dynasty Minerals (NDM) and Pebble Limited Partnership (PLP) are trying to reset public perception of the project. Yesterday they rolled out a new NDM website, and a corporate presentation that highlights the opportunities for everyone to benefit monetarily from the mine's development: NDM shareholders, the State of Alaska, Bristol Bay residents and village corporations. Will this campaign resonate with those Alaskans who are opposed to the project?
PLP hopes so. As CEO Tom Collier said in an address to Alaska's Resource Development Council yesterday, he believes negative opinions about Pebble are based on misinformation. "We are going to be aggressive in the marketplace of ideas," he said, adding that they now have the time and money to rebut false statements.
The feel-good corporate presentation revealed few specifics, however, and PLP cautions that it doesn't represent an economic analysis, technical mine study or detailed engineering proposal. "We continue to consider various development options and, as such, our current development scenarios may be revised to include adjustments and improvements as the Pebble Project advances."
Alaskans have been asking to see a specific mine plan for years. PLP says it has redesigned the mine to meet the concerns of stakeholders, with a much smaller footprint, and careful engineering to include a lined tailings storage facility built to withstand a powerful earthquake. PLP intends to submit permitting documents to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers by the end of 2017, and a technical mine plan should be part of that process. Until that time, the public will have to be content with a general idea of what developers have in mind.