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Four more leading jewelers with nearly $1 billion in sales vow
not to buy gold from proposed Alaskan Mine

JOINT RELEASE: Bristol Bay Commercial Fishermen * Nunamta Aulukestai * EARTHWORKS

Anchorage, Alaska, 09/30 — As commercial fishermen in Bristol Bay, Alaska, celebrate a record-breaking season, a wave of new jewelry retailers representing nearly $1 billion in sales today pledged support for permanently protecting Alaska's Bristol Bay watershed from large-scale metal mining, including the controversial proposed Pebble Mine.

“I want to thank all the jewelers who have vowed never to buy gold from the Pebble Mine,” said Everett Thompson, a Bristol Bay commercial fisherman. “I am always amazed at the yearly return of Bristol Bay salmon and after having my best commercial fishing season in 26 years, I know first-hand what a shame it would be to put this irreplaceable fishery at risk,” he said.

Herff-Jones, Commemorative Brands Inc., Birks and Mayors, and Hacker Jewelers have taken this extraordinary step at the invitation of local Alaskans, who want to protect Bristol Bay's salmon fishery — the world's largest remaining wild sockeye salmon fishery and the source of 50 percent of the world's commercial supply of sockeye salmon.

“Birks and Mayors proudly joins other responsible jewelers denouncing the proposed mining of precious metals at Bristol Bay,” said John Orrico, Senior Vice President of Birks and Mayors. “We trust that the jewelry industry will stand in support of the Bristol Bay salmon fishery thereby preserving this ecosystem while continuing to develop sustainable and responsible sources of supply,” he said in a statement.

The jewelers join over a dozen other prominent retailers, including Tiffany & Co. and Helzberg Diamonds, who have vowed not to buy gold from the Pebble mine, a massive gold and copper mine proposed at the headwaters of Bristol Bay. The mine is projected to be the largest in North America, generating billions of tons of mine waste and using 35 billion gallons of water per year — about the same amount as the City of Anchorage. London-based mining giant Anglo American and Vancouver-based Northern Dynasty are partners in the project.

Tiffany & Co. has also called on the rest of the jewelry industry to follow suit, stating in an advertisement in the most recent issue of National Jeweler that “[d]espite the best of intentions, 175 years of experience sourcing gemstones and precious metals tells us that there are certain places where mining cannot be done without forever destroying landscapes, wildlife and communities. Bristol Bay is one such place.”

Jewelry retailers are an important voice against the controversial mine since over 80 percent of gold demand in the U.S. is for jewelry. Altogether the jewelers that have signed the pledge represent over $3 billion in sales.

“It's not surprising that leading jewelers are backing local efforts to protect the Bristol Bay watershed from harmful mining,” said Bonnie Gestring of Earthworks. “These jewelers know that their customers care that the gold that they purchase doesn't come at the expense of international treasures like Bristol Bay,” she said. Thus far, more than 50 retailers have signed on to principles for responsible gold sourcing, as part of Earthwork's No Dirty Gold campaign.

At the same time that major salmon stocks, including those in Canada's Frasier River and the Pacific Northwest, are suffering serious declines, the Bristol Bay fishery celebrated a record breaking year, with the largest harvest in 20 years.

The proposed mine is widely opposed by Alaska Native communities, commercial fishermen, sports-fishing and tourism businesses, and local residents.

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