FRONTLINE: Alaska Gold

FRONTLINE: Alaska Gold

Tue, 07/24/2012 - 10:00pm

At her family’s fish camp along the Kvichak River in Igiugig, Alaska,Lydia Olympic hangs her subsistence sockeye salmon to dry before smoking.

Credit: Courtesy of Felt Soul Media - Ben Knight

Probe the battle between those who depend on the Bristol Bay for salmon and those who want to dig an open-pit mine at its headwaters.

The Bristol Bay region of southwest Alaska is home to the last great wild sockeye salmon fishery in the world. It’s also home to enormous mineral deposits — copper, gold, molybdenum — estimated to be worth more than $300 billion. Now, two foreign mining companies are proposing to extract this mineral wealth by digging one of North America’s largest open-pit mines, the “Pebble Mine,” at the headwaters of Bristol Bay. FRONTLINE travels to Alaska to probe the fault lines of a growing battle between those who depend on this extraordinary fishery for a living, the mining companies who are pushing for Pebble and the political framework that will ultimately decide the outcome. FRONTLINE: Alaska Gold airs Tuesday, July 24, 2012 at 10 p.m. on WXXI World (DT21.2/cable 524).