Wednesday, March 20, 2013

SEC Investigation Sought into Pebble Mine Company Statements

Officials with the Securities and Exchange Commission have been asked to investigate contradictory information provided by a Canadian mining company invested in a massive copper, gold and molybdenum deposit in Southwest Alaska.

The request came from Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-WA, who cited “potential discrepancies” in a report filed by Canadian-based Northern Dynasty Minerals with the SEC in February 2011.

The report, called the “Wardrop Report,” was used by the US Environmental Protection Agency to inform its May 2012 draft watershed assessment on potential long-term environmental, economic and cultural impacts of a large-scale hard rock mine, like the proposed Pebble Mine, on the Bristol Bay watershed.

In formal testimony to the EPA in August 2012, Northern Dynasty officials referred to the report as a “fantasy proposal,” Cantwell said March 18.

Ron Thiessen, president and chief executive officer of Northern Dynasty, responded on March 19,  saying Cantwell’s concerns have no basis in fact.

“While the EPA may have used some of the information presented in our preliminary economic assessment to create a ‘hypothetical mining scenario’, it is the EPA alone that is responsible for designing and then assessing the effects of the hypothetical mine in the BBWA,” Thiessen said. “To suggest that Northern Dynasty is responsible for the EPA’s hypothetical project which was evaluated in the EPA’s draft BBWA when we had no involvement with the report is wrong,” he said.

Cantwell’s request to the SEC is being applauded by Trout Unlimited and Commercial Fishermen for Bristol Bay in support of Bristol Bay sockeye harvests.

“Clearly Northern Dynasty can’t have it both ways, said Tim Bristol, director of TU’s Alaska program. “Either they are misleading the SEC and investors, or they are misleading the EPA and other regulatory agencies,” he said.

“This contradictory use of the Wardrop Report is extremely concerning as it is unclear whether Northern Dynasty Minerals is misleading investors by attracting investment for a ‘fantasy proposal’ or it is intentionally providing fraudulent testimony to the EPA,” Cantwell said in a March 18 letter to SEC Chair Elisse Walter.

Cantwell noted the importance of the Pebble mine issue to Washington State and the Pacific Northwest and urged an immediate investigation into the matter.

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