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Pebble Partnership copper gold molybdenum mine project Alaska Northern Dynasty NAK NDM

NDM pays fees that unlocked permit door

 

Last updated 1/11/2019 at 5:45am

Large copper gold mine project, Bristol Bay region Southwest Alaska

Pebble Limited Partnership

A 2017 settlement with EPA opened the door for the enormous Pebble copper-gold-molybdenum project in Southwest Alaska to enter the permitting process unencumbered by predetermined restrictions.

Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd. Dec. 28 completed the second tranche of a C$8.4 million (US$6.3 million) financing that will primarily be used to pay a legal fee connected to the successful 2017 settlement of a suit the company brought against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The settlement, reached early in 2017, opened the door for the enormous Pebble copper-gold-molybdenum project in Southwest Alaska to enter the permitting process unencumbered by predetermined restrictions previously put in place by EPA.

"This settlement represents a major step forward for the Pebble project," Pebble Partnership CEO Tom Collier said at the time. "It allows us to start advancing Pebble to the next phase of development and provides us with the opportunity to initiate the normal permitting process for this project."

While considered a major victory for the Pebble Partnership – a company owned by Northern Dynasty that has invested more than US$800 million in the exploration, environmental studies, engineering and other work needed to ready the world-class copper project for permitting – the settlement with EPA involves give and take from both parties.

One of the major limitations for the Pebble Partnership is time.

Under the terms of the settlement, the hopeful mine developer had 30 months to file permit applications, initiating the permitting process under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), and 48 months for a final environmental impact statement (EIS) to be filed by the US Army Corps of Engineers.

The Pebble Partnership had permit applications filed by the end of 2017 and the Corps is doing its part to have the EIS completed well in advance of the deadline negotiated in the agreement.

As long as these two deadlines are met, the EPA has agreed not to take any pre-emptive Clean Water Act 404 (c) action against Pebble. If either deadline is missed, however, the EPA has the option to dust off and activate its previous decision.

Considering the Corps timeline, this will likely not be an issue.

The lead regulatory agency for the Pebble NEPA process expects to have a draft EIS for the copper-gold-molybdenum project this month, which will be followed by a public review period. The information gathered during this review will be incorporated into a final EIS, due out by the end of 2019.

Pebble Partnership CEO Tom Collier, copper gold mine project Alaska

Tom Collier

A final record of decision for the project the Pebble Partnership submitted for permitting is slated for early 2020, which will be a major permitting milestone for developing a mine at what is considered among the largest known undeveloped copper-gold deposits on the planet.

In the meantime, Northern Dynasty needed to pay the legal fees that allowed this potential copper-gold mine to get to this point.

To make this payment, which was due by the end of 2018, Northern Dynasty issued 10.15 million special warrants that will convert to Northern Dynasty shares within 120 days of the closing of the financing.

–SHANE LASLEY

 

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