First off, I need to begin with a disclaimer. I know that the words "Pebble Mine" put a bad taste in thousands of people's mouths from the get-go. I understand that Pebble is currently the most hotly debated topic in Alaska. I also know that the issue has involved into a highly emotional controversy. Out of respect for my school and my district, I will be refraining from stating my opinions regarding the development of the proposed mine. I do this not only as a blogger, but as a teacher and community member.
Now that that's out of the way, I will begin. The Pebble Mine is a mineral exploration project that exists only about 20 miles away from where I live. The area is believed to contain 80.6 billion pounds of copper, 5.6 billion pounds of molybdenum, and 107.4 million ounces of gold. According to the Pebble Partnership, the proposed mine could possibly reel in $64 billion in economic contributions and create 15,000 jobs.
Last weekend, Tyler and I were invited to go on a Pebble tour so that we could see what all of the fuss was about with our own eyes. We jumped at the opportunity and found ourselves boarding a helicopter in Iliamna at ten o'clock in the morning with other teachers from New Stuyahok, another Bristol Bay bush village.
All politics aside, I'm glad that we went just for the helicopter! After my first stomach-churning bush plane ride, I wasn't so sure I was going to enjoy the helicopter. However, I was pleased to find that helicopter rides are smooth and extremely fun! It was like an in-air roller coaster ride with breathtaking scenery to boot.
We first headed towards the land where the Pebble Mine would be if approved. We all hopped out of the helicopter at a high point overlooking the land.
Despite the rainy weather, the view was breathtaking. We were glad to get a first-hand view of the site.
After we surveyed the land set aside for the proposed mine, we boarded the helicopter and flew a little ways more to take a look at one of the drills.
On our way back to Iliamna, we flew over "The Landing" on the Newhalen River. That spit of land that you see at the bottom of the picture shown below is where Kate, Bill, Tyler, and I departed from on Our First Fishing Trip. If the Pebble Mine were approved, this area would be developed into a major port.
After the helicopter ride, we were escorted to the Geology Center. A Pebble geologist explained the mining and drill operations and was able to show us samples of Pebble core. We examined cylinders of different elements drilled from Pebble and were able to see how Pebble geologists record and inspect core samples. It was incredible to see how many elements were collected from just a two-mile expanse of land.
Overall, the tour of the proposed Pebble Mine was extremely informative and interesting. To engineers, geologists, and spectators alike, the deposit is a one of a kind and once in a lifetime discovery. We were extremely glad to have gotten the opportunity to take the tour and feel much more informed as a result.