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News roundup: April 21, 2016

Recent news related to Pebble focuses on the deposition of ecologist Phil North, a former EPA employee. After he retired from a long career with EPA, North and his family left Alaska to travel the world. He came back to the U.S. from Bali to be interviewed by Pebble Limited Partnership (PLP) attorneys, and then later by a U.S. congressional committee, both related to his role in developing the EPA’s Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment. Alaskapublic.org, KDLG radio in Dillingham and Alaska Dispatch News all covered the story.

EPA retiree, pulled back into Pebble, says he’s done (Alaskapublic.org, April 15, 2016)

Pebble CEO Collier on importance of North's deposition (KDLG radio, April 1, 2016)

Retired EPA ecologist Phil North speaks out (KDLG, April 4, 2016)

Hard-to-find retired EPA scientist tells where he's been and why he fought Pebble (Alaska Dispatch News, April 4, 2016)

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Northern Dynasty Board restructures, loses six seasoned Directors

In July 2015, NDM shareholders approved the election of nine Board members, all of whom had served the company between five and 20 years. By February 2016, six of those Board members had resigned.

In February, NDM announced that it had restructured its Board and reduced the number of Directors. Earlier in 2015, NDM acquired Cannon Point Resources and Mission Gold as part of its financing strategy, with Board members from those companies joining the NDM Board. Consequently, more than half of NDM’s current Board of Directors have less than six months’ experience with the company.

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Northern Dynasty ramps up financing efforts to pay for litigation, EPA investigations

Northern Dynasty Minerals (NDM), the Canadian mineral exploration company that owns 100% of the Pebble prospect, has no income and does not expect a positive cash flow until revenues from the Pebble project begin to offset its operating expenses. (If permitting can be achieved, the Pebble project could begin operation by 2024).

To fund its current activities, NDM has pursued a variety of financing options, detailed below. According to company reports, funds raised through these efforts have gone toward:

  • Litigation with EPA
  • Facilitation of third-party investigations of the EPA
  • Maintaining an active corporate presence in Alaska to advance relationships with political and regulatory offices of government, Alaska Native partners and broader stakeholder groups
  • Maintaining the Pebble project, site and claims in good standing
  • Environmental monitoring
  • Maintaining PLP in good standing
  • Finding a potential partner

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PLP vs. EPA: an update

Pebble Limited Partnership (PLP) continues its legal wrangling with the Environmental Protection Agency, hoping to invalidate the agency’s Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment and block its attempts to use Section 404(c) of the Clean Water Act to finalize protections related to large-scale mining at the Pebble deposit.

Litigation began in 2014, and has temporarily shut down the EPA’s 404(c) process.

Cost of the ongoing litigation is in the millions, with parent company Northern Dynasty Minerals (NDM) continuing to raise funds by acquiring junior mining companies with ready cash and releasing special warrants (to be converted to NDM shares). In a recent filing with Canadian Securities, NDM noted that it will “seek to source significant financing” due to the recent devaluation of the Canadian dollar, the fact the legal expenditures “may exceed current budget expectations,” and that the company need funds for engineering and technical expenses.

In January, NDM CEO Ron Thiessen spoke at an investor’s conference about the outlook for Pebble, saying that PLP has enough funds to continue its litigation against the EPA. He told the group he’s confident that the EPA issue will be resolved by the end of the year, leaving PLP free to initiate federal and state permitting.

PLP hopes to attract another partner, and Thiessen reported that major mining companies and Chinese investors are reviewing terabytes of documents the company has made available in an online data room.

However, EPA is also interested in PLP’s documents, and has requested Federal Judge H. Russel Holland to force the company to turn over those related to its mine plan, financials and more. This suggests that Thiessen’s anticipated resolution with the EPA may not be as speedy as predicted.

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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. 

Produced by
the BBNC Land Department

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