In January, Canadian-based Northern Dynasty Minerals (NDM), sole owner of the Pebble prospect, raised C$15.5 million by selling "special warrants" (which will convert to shares) to Barbados-based Stirling Global Value Fund Inc. That investment group now owns around 15% of NDM.
As part of the process, NDM filed updated technical information and a short-form prospectus with Canadian Securities Administrators, which details how the company proposes to use the funds.
More than 60% (around $9.3 million) of the proceeds are slated for legal fees, preparation for permitting, and third-party investigations into the EPA's 404(c) process, according to the prospectus. The rest of the proceeds are anticipated to be spent as follows:
NDM is currently operating under a negative cash flow, which it anticipates to be the case for the foreseeable future. Its 2015 priority is seeking a new partner/investor, and warns that it may need to find significant additional financing, particularly because:
You can read NDM's short-form prospectus as well as a 2014 techinal report on the Canadian Securities Administrators document website www.sedar.com. Search for Northern Dynasty Minerals to retrieve a list of documents.
An independent review panel has concluded that the Aug. 4, 2014 breach of the Mount Polley tailings storage facility (TSF) in British Columbia was the result of a design flaw, not human intervention, overtopping or cracking. The panel determined that designers took into account the strength of the existing foundation of unconsolidated glacial materials, but didn't account for those changing as the dam grew higher and the load on the foundation increased. Further, they noted the "unprecedented steepness" of the perimeter embankment, which contributed to the conditions. The combination of the steep embankment and weakened foundation material created a situation the panel called "a loaded gun."
Regular inspections would not have prevented the breach, concluded the panel, which also wrote that the failure happened despite a "strong regulatory process and personnel."
The panel had several recommendations, including improving corporate governance, strengthening regulatory operations and to use the Best Available Technology (BAT) to move toward a zero failure rate for tailings dam facilities. "The Panel firmly rejects any notion that business as usual can continue," the authors wrote.
The Canadian Minister of Energy and Mines, Bill Bennett, said that the panel's recommendations would be put into effect right away, and has ordered working mines to determine if similar foundation material exists in their tailings dam facilities. Additionally, all mines operating with TSFs must establish Independent Tailings Dam Review Boards.
Members of the panel included three experts in tailing management facilities, Norbert Morgenstern, Steven G. Vick and Dirk Van Zyl.
After the breach, Knight Piésold Ltd, the designer of the Mount Polley TSF, stated that its design had undergone independent reviews during construction (1995-1997) and again in 2006. Knight Piésold handed over responsibility for the design, construction and monitoring of the dam to another company in 2011.
Knight Piésold Ltd is one of the consultants that has worked on the tailings dam design for the proposed Pebble mine.
More about tailings storage facilities (PBS.org, July 2012)
The Pebble Partnership is focusing on legal battles this year, even as it searches for a new investor. Recent news includes parent company Northern Dynasty's effort to raise funds to pay for the legal efforts, which are targeted toward the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and its 404(c) process. In other mining news, Imperial Metals hopes to restart operations at the Mount Polley mine in British Columbia, where a tailings storage facility failed last August.
Imperial Metals requests to partly restart Mount Polley mine (Mining.com, Jan. 18, 2015)
Imperial Metals has submitted a plan for restarting operations at its copper and gold mine near Likely, British Columbia, but the government says it will not approve the plan until it has the results of an independent investigation into the August tailings breach that shut Mount Polley mine down and ultimately discharged an estimated 2.6 billion gallons of waste water and 1.3 billion cubic yards of tailings into the watershed.
Battle-tested Pebble CEO earned his chops as Clinton Interior official (E&E Publishing, Jan. 16, 2015)
E&E Publishing features the Pebble Partnership's new CEO Tom Collier in this piece, who is "confident that we're going to end up with a new partner." Among other details, the story reveals that Collier has rekindled his interest in salmon fishing, and that a Barbados-based firm now stands to control about 15 percent of Northern Dynasty's stock.
Northern Dynasty raises funds for Pebble Mine operations, legal fight (Alaska Dispatch News, Jan. 14, 2015)
The Associated Press reports that Northern Dynasty has raised $13 million from the sale of shares. The funds are needed to help with operating costs and the company's legal battle with the Environmental Protection Agency.
Pebble critics laud oil-gas drilling ban (North of 60 Mining News, Jan. 11, 2015)
President Obama's ban on offshore oil and gas drilling in Bristol Bay draws praise from environmental groups and new calls for similar protections for Pebble waterways.
About Pebble Watch
Pebble Watch is an impartial, educational and fact-based initiative of the BBNC Land Department to disseminate information regarding the proposed Pebble Mine project to BBNC shareholders and interested parties.