WASHINGTON -- In the latest departure from the proposed Pebble Mine in southwest Alaska, British mining giant Rio Tinto announced today that it is divesting its interest in the embattled project by donating its shares to two Alaska charitable foundations.
Potentially the largest copper and gold mine in North America, the Pebble Mine has generated unparalleled opposition from Alaska residents and people around the world, citing environmental and social risks related to the mine’s proposed location in the headwaters of the Bristol Bay fishery, the most productive wild salmon fishery in the world.
Joel Reynolds, Western Director of the Natural Resources Defense Council, made the following statement:
“Rio Tinto’s donation of its interest in the Pebble Mine to local charities is the latest major blow to the project -- and it is very good news for the people of Bristol Bay. By abandoning its 19.1 percent interest in the Pebble Mine, the company has confirmed that the risks of the project are too great and the opposition of the region’s residents too strong.
“Rio Tinto's decision is the latest demonstration that the Pebble Mine is economically and environmentally infeasible, even for the largest mining companies in the world. The company's decision to divest is a vindication of its stated commitment to sustainability in the region and the health, safety, and cultural heritage of the people of Bristol Bay -- and its withdrawal serves the interests of the company's shareholders.
“NRDC and its 1.4 million Members and activists applaud Rio Tinto's decision, and once again we urge EPA to move swiftly to use its authority under the federal Clean Water Act to stop this uniquely reckless project for good.”
Joel has more details in his new blog: http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/jreynolds/thank_you_rio_tinto_british_mi.html
The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 1.4 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, and Beijing. Visit us at www.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.