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LONDON, Nov. 2 – Fifty of the world’s leading jewellers, with more than $5.75 billion in annual sales, say they won t use gold from Anglo American PLC’s proposed Pebble Mine, which threatens the world’s most important fishing grounds for wild sockeye salmon in Bristol Bay, Alaska.

At a news conference today in Bond Street, heart of London’s luxury jewelry trade, Nunamta Aulukestai (Caretakers of our Land), an association of nine Alaska Native village corporations in Bristol Bay, and Earthworks announced the latest jewelers to pledge not to use gold from Pebble Mine. The latest signatories include Fraser Hart, a leading UK independent jewellery retailer; Boucheron, a supplier of jewels to the British royal family; and Ingle & Rhode, a custom jeweler specializing in ethically sourced materials. They join Tiffany & Co, Goldsmiths, Mappin and Webb, Beaverbrooks and other leading retailers and designers representing thousands of stores in the UK and worldwide opposed to the project.

In some areas, mining of precious metals presents too great a risk to communities and the environment. Bristol Bay is such an area, said Noel Coyle, CEO of Fraser Hart. We support protection of Bristol Bay from large-scale mining, and will not source gold that comes at the expense of the communities and salmon fisheries of Bristol Bay.

The Bristol Bay salmon fishery supplies a third of the world’s commercial supply of wild sockeye salmon. It is the lifeblood of many Alaska Native communities and is critical to the state’s economy, generating an average of $400 million a year and over 5,500 jobs.

Salmon is life, said Bobby Andrew, a subsistence fisherman and spokesman for Nunamta Aulukestai. It has sustained our economy and our people for generations. The support from jewellers is important to us because jewellery demand represents 80% of the global mine production of gold.

The proposed Pebble Mine is a project of London-based Anglo American, one of the world’s largest mining companies, and Northern Dynasty Minerals of Canada.

When we met last year with Anglo American, (CEO) Cynthia Carroll said they won t go where they aren’t wanted, said Everett Thompson, a Bristol Bay commercial fisherman. Eighty percent of folks in Bristol Bay don t want the mine. And jewellers don t want the gold. So why is Anglo American still pushing for the mine?

On Thursday the Alaskan delegation will meet with John MacKenzie, CEO of Anglo American’s Copper Division, which oversees the Pebble Mine project.

If Anglo American is committed to human rights, they will respect the rights of the people of Bristol Bay to continue with their way of life, said Bonnie Gestring of Earthworks.

Post by Bill Walker