Why Did Anglo Bail Out of Pebble Mine?

Those of you who have followed my writing over the years (thanks, I appreciate it) will recognize the name “Pebble Mine.” It’s a proposed copper/gold/molybdenum mine in Bristol Bay, AK, home to Native Alaskans and the last pristine sockeye salmon fishery in the world.  A classic “resource war,” the battle over Pebble is an important story with broad implications for mining, salmon, Indigenous people, Alaska, the ‘green gold’ movement, environmentalists, bear, caribou, etc.  I spent time in Bristol Bay and wrote about the dispute in my book “The Ripple Effect,” and again for the Conde Nast Traveler magazine (https://www.cntraveler.com/ecotourism/2012/05/bristol-bay-alaska-environment-salmon-wildlife-poltics).
Now AngloAmerican, a huge multinational mining concern, has 1) replaced its CEO, the American Cynthia Carroll; 2) walked away from a $451 million (!) investment in the Pebble mine.  It’s a nice battle to win, but, as my friends in Alaska remind me, it’s not a victory to end the war.
For that, the EPA must rule on the 404(c) question: <<Clean Water Act Section 404(c) authorizes EPA to prohibit, restrict, or deny the discharge of dredged or fill material at defined sites in waters of the United States (including wetlands) whenever it determines, after notice and opportunity for public hearing, that use of such sites for disposal would have an unacceptable adverse impact on one or more of various resources, including fisheries, wildlife, municipal water supplies, or recreational areas. (https://water.epa.gov/lawsregs/guidance/cwa/dredgdis/404c_index.cfm)>>
Meanwhile, here is my friend Brad Wieners on why Anglo bailed out of this “sure thing”:


Why Miners Walked Away From the Planet’s Richest Undeveloped Gold Deposit

By    September 27, 2013

The Upper Talarik River's headwaters are near the proposed Pebble Mine site in the Iliamna Lake area of the Alaska PeninsulaPhotograph by Bob Hallinen/Anchorage Daily News/MCT via Getty Images
The Upper Talarik River’s headwaters are near the proposed Pebble Mine site in the Iliamna Lake area of the Alaska Peninsula
Before pulling out of the Pebble Mine project last week, Anglo American(AAUKY), one of the world’s biggest mining companies, had invested six years and at least $541 million—in a partnership with Vancouver-basedNorthern Dynasty Minerals (NAK)—to develop the site in southwestern Alaska. Wait, pause on that number for a sec: $541 million. That’s right, the London-based multinational and its U.S. subsidiary (AA Pebble) just forfeited a return on more than half a billion dollars of its shareholders’ money. By the end of its 60-day withdrawal from the project (mid-November), that figure will probably end up closer to $580 million. Anglo American has also indicated it will write down a $300 million loss (misreported as a “penalty” elsewhere) to remove the proposed mine as an asset from its books.
Although a far smaller player, Northern Dynasty will soon own 100 percent of the project, thought to be worth $300 billion or more, and vows to carry on. Having completed more than a million miles of exploratory, diamond-core drilling in 1,200 holes, the former partners also amassed a 27,000-page study of the terrain, but had not begun the formal permitting process. In fact, Northern Dynasty has plowed $180 million into Pebble since it first secured the rights to the region in 2001. Huge mining consortiums frequently seed nine-figure projects, but $760 million-plus is still a large sum, so why did Anglo American bail now?
For the answer, see:  https://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-09-27/why-anglo-american-walked-away-from-the-pebble-mine-gold-deposit