Watching the scary and unsettling coverage of the BP oil spill on the news today, I can’t help but think that the proposed Pebble gold and copper mine project in Alaska is not going to happen.
One of the things that we learned from the BP episode is that, while a company may sincerely believe it can handle a catastrophe, you never know until it happens.
In the aftermath of this spill, I think all drilling and mining projects will be looked at more critically. And, fair or not, Pebble could be victim of that. People will be far more skeptical when mining companies say “trust me.” And, already some commentators and Pebble opponents and conflating the two: see here and here.
Consider what a PR disaster any problems at Pebble would be. We all see how the oil industry is getting beaten up over the BP situation. If Pebble damages the world’s largest salmon fishery, that could impact this industry in ways I can’t even begin to imagine.
A lot of retailers have gotten a nice publicity boost from saying they won’t buy from Pebble. At this point, every retailer should jump on board. Because my prediction is: Pebble will not happen. It’s dead. Anglo-American should do every one a favor and give this idea up.
For background on this issue, see the article I wrote in March.