February 2015

13 February 2015

New NDM funds mostly slated for legal fees

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:

  • $1.8 million for maintaining "an active corporate presence in Alaska to advance relationships with political and regulatory offices of government, Alaska Native partners and broader stakeholder relationships."
  • $2.1 million for maintaining the "Pebble Project and Pebble claims in good standing and continue environmental monitoring."
  • $1.77 million for general and administration costs and to seek a new partner.

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:

  • The Canadian dollar has recently depreciated and most of the Pebble Project expenses are in U.S. dollars;
  • Additional engineering and technical expenditures may be required (over and above what is in the current budget); and
  • Legal expenditures also may exceed the current budget figures.

Learn more

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.




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03 February 2015

Design flaw led to Mount Polley breach say investigators

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.

Read more, including the full report, at the Mount Polley Review Panel web site.

More about tailings storage facilities (PBS.org, July 2012)

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