Pebble Budgets $107 Million to Prepare Mining Project for Permitting in 2012

Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd.
in Vancouver, British Columbia, has announced a budget of $107 million to ready
the Pebble Mine project for permitting in accordance with the National Environmental
Policy Act later this year. 
The company has said they are
finalizing a proposed design to meet and exceed environmental regulations and permitting
requirements on both the state and federal levels. Northern Dynasty is partnered
in the multi-million dollar mine prospect with London-based Anglo American plc.
John Shively, chief executive
officer of the Pebble Partnership, said in the coming months there will be ongoing
environmental studies on groundwater hydrology, water quality and fish and marine
resources and more.
The mine site lies at the headwaters
of the Bristol Bay watershed, the world’s largest sockeye salmon run. A number of
individuals, organizations and businesses engaged in the Bristol Bay salmon fisheries,
including biologists, are concerned that the mine could adversely affect the health
of the fisheries and their habitat. They are awaiting the draft report expected
soon from the US Environmental Protection Agency on its scientific research into
the watershed, which could allow the agency to use its authority under the Clean
Water Act to block a required federal dredge-and-fill discharge permit for the proposed
Former Alaska legislative leader
Rick Halford – now a consultant to Nunamta Alukestai (Caretakers of the Land) and
Trout Unlimited – said $107 million is not inconsistent with the spending packages
of the Pebble Partnership.
“Whenever Northern Dynasty announces
anything on Pebble, you don’t know if they are mining in the field or in the stock
market,” Halford said. “They have said numerous times that they are for sale and
don’t plan to be one of the major operators. I think it is their intention to sell
out before the mine ever goes into production.”
Halford said the EPA has an opportunity
here to prevent disposal of large amounts of toxic waste into salmon streams or
for perpetual remediation. “The EPA has done that in other places far less valuable
than Bristol Bay,” said Halford, who has a home in Bristol Bay as well as one near
Anchorage. “The EPA has an opportunity to restate the existing interpretation of
the Clean Water Act to insure that the protections already provided in other places
will apply in Alaska.”