Anglo American Out of Pebble Mine; Northern Dynasty Plans Permitting

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.