Pebble Issues Update

Backers of the Pebble mine prospect in Southwest Alaska are anticipating the likelihood that a major mining company will take over Northern Dynasty’s assets in the deal at some point, but meanwhile the Pebble Partnership has budgeted $91 million for 2011 operations. Partners in the prospect spent a record $140 million in 2008 alone. Their stated objective is to complete a prefeasibility study for the Pebble project in 2012, in hopes of initiating permitting under the National environmental Policy Act. Northern Dynasty President and chief executive officer Ron Thiessen made the announcement May 2 in Vancouver, British Columbia. The company plans to release within the next couple of months a 20,000-page environmental baseline document.

Another topic of discussion has been the emergence of a new nonprofit corporation calling itself itself Nuna Resources Inc., described by its board as an entity established to advocate for sustainable economy in Bristol Bay. Abe Williams, president of Paug-Vik Corp. in Naknek is the president of Nuna Resources.

Pebble spokesman Mike Heatwold acknowledged that the partnership is a contributor to Nuna Resources, which he described as “an important voice to be heard in the discussion of Pebble.” Nuna Resources board members include Trefon Angasan, chairman of the Alaska Peninsula Corp. and a long time paid consultant to the Pebble Partnership. Another board member is Lisa Reimers, chief executive officer of the Iliamna Development Corp. at Iliamna. The Pebble Partnership has a business relationship with the Iliamna Corp. to provide services at the mine exploration site, including housekeeping, food services and other site support, and an environmental monitoring contract through the Alaska Peninsula Corp., Heatwole said.

Nunamta Alukestai, Caretakers of the Land, is a regional entity representing nine village corporations, tribes and the Bristol Bay Native Corp., all of whom oppose the mine. Nunamta Alukestai has responded to Nuna Resources’ efforts to contact opponents to the mine by reminding the public that 80 percent of Bristol Bay residents oppose development of the mine.