One of two joint venture partners in a massive, contentious copper, gold and molybdenum mine in Southwest Alaska is bailing out, leaving Canada’s Northern Dynasty Minerals to carry the project forward to permitting later this year.
The announcement Sept. 16 from London-based Anglo American PLC said that after a review of the company’s backlog of projects a decision was made to prioritize money on projects with the highest value and lowest risks within its portfolio.
The globally diversified mining company has already invested over $500 million of the $1.5 billion it committed to in 2007 toward the Pebble Limited Partnership project.
According to Ron Thiessen, chief executive officer of Northern Dynasty, his company plans to begin the permitting application process for the $4.7 billion project by year’s end. Northern Dynasty will have the benefit of $541 million worth of expenditures, which opens the door to a number of exciting possibilities for Northern Dynasty and its shareholders and the Pebble project and its stakeholders,” Thiessen said.
But Northern Dynasty spokesman Sean MaGee said Sept. 17 that while plans have not been altered yet, there could now be some changes in the timeline for moving forward with the project. “As we go forward, there is no doubt we will have to access additional financing to move the project forward,” MaGee said.
“Northern Dynasty has said they are not going to relax and neither are we,” said Bob Waldrop, executive director of the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association. “Fishermen remain very concerned about the risks of this mine, no matter who does it. The more you look (into development of the mine) the worse it gets, until finally even the business people are pulling out.”
The announcement comes as the US Environmental Protection Agency is still working to complete its final Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment, which could help determine an EPA decision on whether to invoke section 404 (C) of the Clear Water Act. That section authorizes the EPA to deny or restrict use of any defined area as a disposal site after a determination that the discharge of certain materials would have an unacceptable adverse effect on municipal water supplies, and fishery areas.