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Tuesday
Dec182012

Shining Bright

What do you call a jewelry company that boycotts a mine that doesn’t even exist?  Well, they call themselves “the Diamond Store.”  I call them anti-American. 

You probably know them as Zales.

If you care about American jobs and American security, take my advice this holiday season – don’t shop at Zales.

Zales is one of the most prominent signatories of the Bristol Bay Protection Pledge – a group of organizations and corporations opposed to mining operations in the Bristol Bay region of Alaska known as the Pebble Mine.  The pledge is co-sponsored by Earthworks – a fringe environmental group profiled on the National Center’s educational website, GroupSnoop.org

While the Pebble Partnership is informally considering mining in the region, they have not yet applied for a single state or federal permit, nor have they submitted a formal mining plan.  According to U.S. Geological Survey estimates, the mine “could potentially triple U.S. reserves of copper, increase its gold reserves by 50 percent and make America the world’s largest holder of mineral molybdenum, an essential component of high-strength steel alloys.”  

The mine could also create as many as 1,000 high-paying jobs in the impoverished Alaskan region, and some estimates place the value of the mine at $400 billion.

Even though the mine is years away from development – if it gets developed at all – Zales claims Pebble will irreparably harm the region and its inhabitants.

Zales executive vice president Gill Hollander said of the Pledge: 

Zale is committed to sourcing gold and other precious metals in a responsible manner. We believe gold should be mined and refined in a manner that protects both the environment and its inhabitants.  Therefore, Zale is happy to support, alongside other jewelers, the pledge to protect the Bristol Bay Fishery Reserve from large-scale metals mining.

Since Zales executives can apparently predict the future, I attended the annual meeting of Zales shareholders in Irving, Texas, back on December 6 where I asked their CEO Theo Killion how his company divined the pitfalls of a mining operation that has no formal plan.  I asked:

if you or Mr. Hollander already know the harms that are going to befall the people of Bristol Bay or its environment should the Pebble Mine proceed – please, share them with us.  For that matter, who is going to win the Super Bowl this year?  What are the next winning Powerball numbers?

How can our company oppose a mine that hasn’t even been proposed?  There is no mining plan to oppose?

Not surprisingly, Killion did not provide me with the winning number or team.  But, incredibly, he claimed total ignorance of his company’s illogical boycott. 

So I took the opportunity to extend an olive branch to Killion and provided him with some information about the Pebble Mine.  I asked him to evaluate the issue, come to his senses and remove Zales from the Bristol Bay Protection Pledge. 

Nearly two weeks have passed, and Zales remains a lead signatory to the Pledge. 

If Zales wants to turn its back on American jobs and prosperity, perhaps it’s time American customers turn their back on the Texas-based jeweler.  And doing so during the holiday shopping season would send a powerful message.

And if we truly wish peace and hope this holiday season, maybe we should eschew shiny material presents altogether and follow the advice of Scottish novelist George MacDonald who said: “If instead of a gem, or even a flower, we should cast the gift of a loving thought into the heart of a friend, that would be giving as the angels give.” 

Merry Christmas, indeed.

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