Pebble Mine Backers Cut Staff, Suspend and Cancel Contracts

The Pebble Limited Partnership is seeking a new partner to fill the gap
left after Anglo-American PLC bailed out of the multi-million dollar mining
investment in Southwest Alaska, but meanwhile is trimming its list of staff and

Pebble spokesman Mike Heatwole said Oct. 7 the partnership has laid off an
undisclosed number of its approximately 70 employees, with a severance package
provided by Anglo American, and also temporarily suspended or cancelled some of
several dozen contracts.

“We are still getting our arms around what the go forward work program will be
for the rest of 2013 and 2014,” Heatwole said. Some environmental studies,
primarily water work, is continuing, and as long as the partnership has folks
out in the field, they will be providing necessary support services, he said.

With the London-based international diversified mining firm out of the picture,
Northern Dynasty Minerals, a subsidiary of Hunter Dickinson Inc., a diversified
global mining group, is talking with other companies about joining the
partnership, Heatwole said. Meanwhile, Northern Dynasty has stated that they
have the resources to advance the project, albeit at a slower pace than earlier
Heatwole said the PLP is looking at all its programming objectives for 2013 and
hasn’t made any decision yet on its schedule for applying for mining permits.

“We are reevaluating everything,” he said. “We will have a smaller work force
going forward.”

Before announcing plans to abandon the effort to develop the copper, gold and
molybdenum mine at the headwaters of the Bristol Bay watershed in Southwest
Alaska, Anglo American had invested some $541 million in the project. Northern
Dynasty has also invested some $180 million in exploration.

Heatwole said that given the skills of Anchorage staff he felt many of them
would be hired by other companies, but he was concerned about employment
prospects for those in the Bristol Bay region.

The mine has an estimated value of billions of dollars, and mine proponents say
it would help boost the region’s economy, bringing in jobs and tax dollars. The
majority of Bristol Bay residents, whose economy is based on the Bristol Bay
sockeye salmon fishery, oppose the mine, because they feel it would adversely
affect salmon spawning habitat in the Kvichak and Nushagak river systems.

At the request of several Alaska Native tribal groups the Environmental
Protection Agency has for more than two years been assessing the potential
impact of the massive mine project on the Bristol Bay fisheries environment.
The EPA is now in the process of finalizing that report.