Rio Tinto faces storm overpebble on a beachPublished by MAC on 2007-02-02
Rio Tinto faces storm overpebble on a beach
2nd Feburary 2007
Last week, Rio Tinto announced record results for 2006. The world's second largest mining company scored a net profit of US$7.44 billion - 43% up on its 2005 earnings.
CEO Leigh Clifford announced that the company would be targeting four major copper and gold deposits: Oyu Tolgoi in Mongolia (where Rio is partnered with Ivanhoe), La Granja in Peru, Arizona's Resolution venture (copper-gold) - and the Pebble mine in Alaska.
Though the latter is majority-owned by Canada's Northern Dynasty, on February 2 Rio Tinto paid nearly a hundred million dollars to secure 19.8 percent of Northern Dynasty's equity.
Pebble is shaping up to be the most controversial new mining project in the US, while the UK-Australian company is facing a coalition of opponents as broad as that which attempted (but failed) to halt its Flambeau mine in Wisconsin during the late eighties.
Already, the US NGO, Earthworks, has called on the jewelery trade to boycott any gold deriving from Pebble, saying that many native Alaskans fear it will destroy their very way of life.
Such opposition has never trouble Rio Tinto in the past - certainly not where one of the world's biggest potential deposits of gold and copper are concerned.
Jewelers urged to boycott new Alaska gold mine
Bristol Bay site is home to world's largest sockeye salmon fishery
By MARY PEMBERTON, Associated Press
20th January 2007
ANCHORAGE, ALASKA — An ad campaign launched last month asks jewelers to boycott gold from a proposed open pit mine that many Alaska Natives fear will ruin their way of life.
The campaign in National Jeweler, an industry newspaper, is designed to educate jewelers about the Pebble Mine project in the Bristol Bay watershed, home to the largest sockeye salmon fishery in the world.
"Our biggest concern is what will the future generations have?" said Bobby Andrew, spokesman for Nunamta Aulukestai, an association of eight Alaska Native village corporations in Bristol Bay.
"This type of massive industrialization at the heart of Bristol Bay will forever harm the abundant fish and wildlife resources that sustain this region," he said.
Earthworks, a Washington, D.C.-based environmental group, is paying between $10,000 and $20,000 to place the ad in the January, February and March issues of National Jeweler.
"We need your help. Bristol Bay is the wrong place for a gold mine. No responsible jeweler would knowingly buy gold mined there," the ad says. "Your support will let customers know that you care about preserving your company's glowing reputation."
Message from Hollywood
The ad asks jewelers to take a pledge at the Web site: www.protectbristolbay.org.
Earthworks President Steve D'Esposito said consumers increasingly want to know that lives were not destroyed in making their gold and diamond jewelry.
The movie Blood Diamond, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, is helping get that message across to the public, he said.
The movie is set in Sierra Leone in the late 1990s, when the West African country was in the throes of a civil war and untraceable diamonds allegedly funded fighters who hacked off people's hands with machetes and burned entire villages.
"I think Blood Diamond is the 'Ah-ha!' moment when the consumer says this wedding ring does not come magically, it comes from some place," D'Esposito said.
A world-class treasure
Brian Kraft, a Bristol Bay fishing lodge owner and founder of the Bristol Bay Alliance, said jewelers are being asked to help protect what he describes as a world-class treasure.
"Their customers will want to know that the jewelry they purchase does not come at the expense of the world's greatest salmon fishery and the communities that depend on it," Kraft said.
Canada's Northern Dynasty Minerals wants to build the mine 238 miles southwest of Anchorage.
The company says Pebble Mine is the largest North American gold deposit and the continent's second-largest copper deposit.
It estimates the total value of metals there at $150 billion to $200 billion. A message seeking comment was left for Northern Dynasty officials.