Northern Dynasty Minerals (TSX: NDM) on Friday issued a technical report on its contentious Pebble project in Alaska, including a revised mineral resource estimate to confirm the mine’s potential for the production of rhenium.
The Pebble technical report comes just two days after President Donald Trump’s signing of a second executive order to protect and build the domestic supply of critical minerals like rhenium.
The rare metal is currently considered a strategic metal by US Congress, the US Geological Survey, the US Department of Interior and the US military due to its primary use as an alloying metal in jet engine turbine blades, combustion chambers and exhaust nozzles.
Northern Dynasty previously highlighted the project’s potential for critical mineral production, forecasting that total endowment at Pebble would augment the nation’s known rhenium resource base by as much as 84%.
As outlined in the technical report, the proposed copper-gold-molybdenum mine in southwest Alaska’s Bristol Bay region contains an estimated 2.6 million kg of rhenium resources in the measured and indicated category and 1.6 million kg of rhenium in the inferred category.
These estimates would establish Pebble as the “single most significant source of rhenium in the world,” the company says.
The primary source of rhenium around the world is mining operations based on copper porphyry deposits like Pebble, which recover the mineral as a byproduct through the treatment of molybdenum concentrates.
After Pebble, the most significant rhenium deposits in the world exist at copper porphyry mines in Chile, including Chuquicamata (3.8 million kg) and El Teniente (2.76 million kg), according to data from the USGS.
As proposed, the Pebble project will produce approximately 15,000 tonnes of molybdenum concentrate each year over 20 years of mining and mineral processing. The rhenium content in Pebble’s molybdenum concentrate is forecast to be in the range of 900 ppm.
The final environmental impact statement (EIS) for the Pebble project was released by the lead federal regulator, the US Army Corps of Engineers, in July, pending review.
In September, Tom Collier, CEO of Northern Dynasty’s US-based subsidiary Pebble Limited Partnership, submitted his resignation in light of comments made about elected and regulatory officials in Alaska in private conversations videotaped by an environmental activist group.
President Trump recently pledged in a tweet that there would be “no politics” involved in the review process.
Shares of Northern Dynasty Minerals rallied 1.4% by midday Friday to a one-week high, giving the Pebble owner a market capitalization of C$709.2 million. The stock took a beating in late August on growing doubts over the whether the proposed mine would receive the President’s blessing.