Northern Dynasty submits Pebble mitigation plan

Drill rigs at the Pebble project site. Credit: Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd.

Northern Dynasty Minerals (TSX: NDM) has submitted a compensatory mitigation plan (CMP) for the controversial Pebble project to the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), ahead of Wednesday’s deadline.

Northern Dynasty and its US-based subsidiary Pebble Partnership said they believe the submitted CMP fully satisfies mitigation requirements for the proposed mine in southwest Alaska.

Following the publication of a positive final environmental impact statement (EIS) in July, the USACE published its mitigation requirements for Pebble on August 20 and provided the Pebble Partnership 90 days to submit a CMP to address them. Filing an approved CMP for the project is a necessary prerequisite to receiving a federal record of decision (ROD).

If permitted, Pebble would become North America’s largest mine, with an estimated 6.5 billion tonnes of measured and indicated resources containing 57 billion lb copper, 71 million oz gold, 3.4 billion lb molybdenum and 345 million oz silver.

Pebble’s development has been surrounded by controversy and delays, including the EPA’s decision in 2014 to propose restricting the discharge of mining waste and other material in the area.

The criticism prompted the Vancouver-based company to submit a new, smaller mine plan that includes lined tailings, and discard the use of cyanide in the gold extraction process.

“Based on the findings of the final EIS, we already know Pebble can operate safely and reliably, while fully protecting the water, fish and wildlife resources of Bristol Bay. Meeting the USACE’s challenging mitigation requirements provides even greater evidence that Pebble can and will co-exist with commercial, subsistence and sport fisheries in southwest Alaska,” Northern Dynasty president and CEO Ron Thiessen said in a press release.

Thiessen said the final EIS for Pebble indicates the project will make “important, positive socioeconomic contributions to the region, the state and the nation.”

If permitted, Pebble would become North America’s largest mine with an estimated 6.5 billion tonnes of measured and indicated resources

“Pebble will also deliver the critical and strategic minerals the United States requires for its economic and military security,” he said, “while helping facilitate the transition to a lower-carbon future.”

Thiessen said Pebble Partnership technical/permitting staff and expert, third-party consultants in Alaska have prepared a “high-quality mitigation plan” to fully satisfy the lead federal agencies’ requirements — including undertaking extensive field investigations this summer and fall.

“We have an experienced team in Alaska that has identified both the means and mechanism to meet the ‘in-kind’ and ‘in watershed’ mitigation requirements, and complete a CMP that we believe will be acceptable to the USACE in form and content,” he said.

He said the company will not be releasing any details about the CMP until it is accepted by the USACE and posted to its website.

There is no statutory timeline for the USACE’s review of the Pebble CMP. The company’s current expectation is that its sufficiency will be confirmed prior to or concurrent with issuance of a final ROD.

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