Northern Dynasty Minerals, the Canadian mining firm backing the proposed Pebble Mine in Southwestern Alaska, has reached a nearly $6.4 million settlement, through mediation, with a group of investors disgruntled about information they received on the project.
The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York noted that the law favors settlement, particularly in class actions and other complex cases because they tie up substantial judicial resources, use up the parties’ time and money, and, in such cases, litigation resolution is usually significantly delayed.
This past Jan. 30, after over a dozen years of administrative review, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) vetoed the proposed mine to protect the over $2 billion in annual revenue from the Bristol Bay wild salmon fishery, thousands of jobs and millions of wild salmon.
Spokespersons for the Bristol Bay Defense Fund (BBDF), a coalition of local, state and national groups representing Bristol Bay tribes, commercial fishermen, businesses and conservation entities, issued a statement saying that the settlement “demonstrates yet again how untrustworthy Northern Dynasty Minerals is and always will be. Not only did they mislead investors, they lied to the people of Bristol Bay.”
The BBDF urged the Biden administration to order Northern Dynasty to remediate the parts of the watershed it damaged and left polluted.
“Northern Dynasty acted without any regard for the tribes, commercial and sport fishers, or members of the Bristol Bay community who would be the most gravely impacted by their reckless and devious mining proposal,” BBDF stated. “Our elected officials must recognize the duplicity of Northern Dynasty and the recklessness of their project, and pass watershed-wide protections to protect all of Bristol Bay, our salmon and our way of life, forever.”
Northern Dynasty Executive Vice President of Corporate Development Adam Chodos said the settlement does not contain any admissions of liability.
“To the contrary, Northern Dynasty firmly believes that the notion of a “secret mine plan” is baseless and the company denies any wrongdoing alleged by the plaintiffs,” he said.
“The company is confident that it would have prevailed at trial on the merits, when the full context and facts underlying the permitting process would show the allegations to be without merit,” he said.
“Nonetheless,” he continued, “this settlement brings to an end what would have been a costly and protracted legal process, with the settlement amount representing a fraction of the expected costs of litigation to bring this case to verdict.”