Mineral exploration has been done for centuries, and it is always associated with advantages and disadvantages. The Pebble Mine in the Bristol Bay region of Southwest Alaska is no different. This type of mine involves extraction of low grade copper-gold-molybdenum sulfide deposits. During the world recession, pebble mining was one of those businesses that saved many countries. Unfortunately, it also left behind devastation and long-term environmental effects.
List of Pros of Pebble Mining
1. Increase in high paying jobs
Pebble mining is nothing new, but its full potential has yet to be discovered. If it is opening job opportunities now the more work that further exploration will offer. The real bonus is the fact that it pays really high. Because of the nature of the work, remote locations of the mine and the elements of the weather that comes into play, even the lowest paying jobs in pebble mining pays more than other regular professions.
2. Provides several economic benefits
As previously mentioned, pebble mining enabled many countries to survive during the economic crisis, largely because of considerable job growth. Higher salary and compensation also means a better way of life for the employees and the members of their family, a factor that is often considered when rating a nation’s economic status.
There will also be an increase in investment that will demand for improved and better services and goods. This, in turn, will assist the local communities to survive and thrive.
3. Reduce dependency on foreign resources
When raw materials are sourced locally, dependency on foreign providers will diminish significantly. There will be no need to import copper-gold-molybdenum sulfide, which will reduce production cost of whatever products that will be manufactured using the mined minerals.
4. Additional government profit
Tax is imposed on pebble mining that has been paid to the government. Whatever tariff earned will then be used to improve essential services, such as education, social security and health care, and assist in construction of schools, hospitals and other essential infrastructure.
List of Cons of Pebble Mining
1. Leaves environmental devastation
Environmental impact is one of the biggest reasons that people strongly oppose pebble mine. In fact, the Wild Salmon Center and Trout Unlimited have produced a report outlining the significant ecological concerns that are sure to follow a large-scale mine. These include billions of tons of waste rock, very deep and wide open pits, high and long miles of dams, and the production of acid mine drainage, all of which can significantly affect wild salmon fishery. The pits can also become a breeding ground of mosquitoes that would cause illnesses to people living nearby.
2. Economic risks
Pebble mining may open plenty of job opportunities, but it can also affect the other side of livelihood. A huge population of Alaska is heavily dependent on fishing, and the damage that pebble mining can cause to the fishing industry is likely to cripple a lot of people and communities.
3. Threat to workers’ safety
Mining is brutal and dangerous work, regardless of the mineral or material being sourced. Digging deep in the earth with no access to fresh air and being enclosed with dust, fumes and other elements put a worker’s health and safety at risk. Add to this the chemicals used in a pebble mining project, and you are looking at a lower life span for everyone involved.