British Columbia’s Northern Dynasty Minerals, owner of the Pebble Limited Partnership, says it has entered into a framework agreement with First Quantum Minerals Ltd., contingent on completion of due diligence, which would allow for the project to move forward.
Northern Dynasty President and CEO Ron Thiessen said that the immediate capital contribution from First Quantum Minerals Ltd. would allow Northern Dynasty to initiate federal and state permitting for the mine in the very near term.
First Quantum chairman and CEO Philip Pascall said his company would make a $37.5 million payment to Northern Dynasty in coming days, as part of an agreement calling for payments totaling $150 million toward the permitting process over the next four years.
According to Pebble Partnership spokesman Mike Heatwole the company will be applying for wetlands permits by the end of this year.
Shares of Northern Dynasty stock fell nearly 17 percent before rebounding to about an eight percent loss on December 18 after Northern Dynasty announced entering into the agreement with First Quantum Minerals.
The proposed mine site lies near the headwaters of the Bristol Bay watershed in Southwest Alaska, where the majority of residents contend such development poses potential adverse impact to salmon habitat. This past summer over 37 million sockeyes were harvested, 10 million more than projected.
Backers of the mine contend that it can be developed and operated in harmony with the fishery, which produces the world’s largest run of wild sockeye salmon.
“Bristol Bay’s record-breaking salmon run this summer is a testament to the health and bounty of this world class fishery,” said Norm Van Vactor, CEO of the Bristol Bay Economic Development Corp. in Dillingham, Alaska. “Even after 100 years, this commercial fishery is the economic backbone of the region and a literal food factory for the world,” he said. “First Quantum Minerals is wasting their time investing in a project that has little to no local support and no legitimate claim to economic feasibility. At the end of the day, the Pebble mine threatens our fishery and all it supports, and that is just a risk Bristol Bay is not willing to take,” he said.
Mike Niver of Commercial Fishermen for Bristol Bay said harvesters know that by taking care of the waterways upstream from the Bay that the salmon will continue to take care of them. “Bristol Bay is no place for experimentation and Pebble mine is a very bad investment,” he said.