The concerns of many fishing and sportsmen’s groups, environmentalists and local Alaskans have risen over the proposed Pebble open-pit copper/gold mine in southwest Alaska. Here I have superimposed an image of the mine footprint over Washington DC, using Google Earth Pro, to demonstrate the size of the proposed open-pit mine and the tailings and wasterock storage impoundments that we’ve calculated would be necessary to accommodate this mining operation.
In the image above, you can compare the size of the mining pit to The Mall in DC, nothing compared to the huge impoundments required to store all the rock and tailings that would be excavated from the pit. The image below shows three very large impoundments, each bounded by a series of earth-and-rock-filled dams. The largest tailings impoundment will be held by what would be the longest dam in the world.
We estimate this huge mine will produce 13.5 billion cubic yards of liquid slurry and wasterock. All of the waste must be eternally confined in a seismically activearea that will likely experience major earthquakes. Spills, leakage or any other damage to the dams could negatively affect Alaska’s $5 billion BristolBay fishing industry as well as tourism. For more information check out all of our blog posts about the Pebble mine and check out our map and image gallery.