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Proposed Pebble gold mine faces long, difficult journey

Two drill sites sit on the eastern deposit. The distant drill uses a new "sonic" technology, one geologist said, which further reduces impact on the tundra.
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A close-up look at some of the rocks and minerals found in the Pebble deposit.
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At this stage of Pebble's project development, everything from drill bits to water hoses and scientists is airlifted into and out of the deposit. Two other helicopters with geologists and hydrologists from Canada touched down during the tour.
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A geologist holds up a sample from the Pebble deposit. Notice the small gold specks? Those are among the largest "veins" of gold in the deposit. What's not extractable becomes waste. of tons of waste rock.
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A driller works on pulling core samples from the eastern Pebble deposit.
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A view of the Pebble deposit from a bluff nearby, where geologists and helicopters take off and land.
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A helicopter lands at an eastern deposit core-drilling site.
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A bird's eye view of the Pebble project and mile-and-a-half-wide deposit site. Notice the stranded water, which geologists called "off-channel fish habitat."
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This drill site, one of two in the eastern area of the deposit, was actively removing core samples from deep beneath the Pebble deposit. According to Pebble geologists, copper ore has been discovered more than a mile beneath the deposit.
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A view of the Pebble deposit from a nearby bluff, with Frying Pan Lake in the distance and Lake Iliamna beyond, about 25 miles away.
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Jane Whitsett is the environmental studies manager for Pebble Partnership and oversees various scientific aspects of study under way at the Pebble deposit, including hydrology and fish studies.
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Frying Pan Lake is the closest natural body of water to the Pebble deposit. It's located about a mile from an area currently being drilled for core samples.
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A Pebble geologist shows a core sample from Pebble deposit drilling. The sample shows offers a good example of what some of the ore in the eastern deposit looks like.
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Eric Christopher Adams

When it comes to large-scale Alaska mining, things are infinitely more complicated these days. Just ask the folks at Pebble Partnership.