05 May 2015

News roundup: May 5, 2015

Federal Judge weighs postponing Pebble mine hearing (Alaska Dispatch News, May 5, 2015)

Federal Judge H. Russel Holland, who is presiding over ongoing litigation brought by the Pebble Limited Partnership (PLP) against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), is considering delaying further action on one of the lawsuits against the EPA, pending the outcome of an internal EPA investigation. Judge Holland learned about the internal investigation, which has been ongoing since May 2014, when he read a Pebble mine-related story in the Alaska Dispatch News over the weekend.

Read the story.

Pebble mine backers aren't ready to give up the gold (Alaska Dispatch News, May 3, 2015)

Erica Martinson provides an overview of the "battle over Pebble mine," addressing upcoming litigation, EPA's internal investigation into whether the Watershed Assessment process was conducted properly, and a separate, third-party investigation initiated by PLP.

Read the story.

 EPA moves to sink Alaska Pebble mine FOIA suit (Law360 online, April 20, 2015)

The EPA has asked a federal judge to throw out one of the lawsuits PLP brought against the agency regarding a January 2014 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. PLP contends that the EPA has withheld some documents related to the 404(c) process it launched last year in order to seek protections for the Bristol Bay watershed in the area of the Pebble deposit. The EPA contends that it has properly processed the request. 

Read the story.

Pebble selling off surplus equipment (KDLG radio, April 17, 2015)

KDLG radio in Dillingham reports on a flyer posted in town that advertises the sale of various pieces of equipment PLP had used in previous exploration work. According to a PLP spokesperson, the surplus equipment was sitting idle and depreciating and it made "sense to sell some of it off."

Read the story.

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01 April 2015

News roundup: April 1, 2015

Judge allows for subpoena in Pebble lawsuit (Alaska Dispatch News - March 31, 2015)

Judge H. Russel Holland ruled Monday that Pebble Limited Partnership can subpoena Alaska Communications to preserve emails between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and an attorney who has represented Pebble critics.

Read the story. 

Pebble hires Cohen group to conduct review of EPA actions in Bristol Bay (KDLG radio - March 24, 2015)

KDLG's Dave Bendinger interviews Mike Heatwole, spokesperson for Pebble Limited Partnership, and Alannah Hurley, executive director of the United Tribes of Bristol Bay, about Pebble's decision to hire a consulting group to review whether EPA was fair in moving forward with the 404(c) process to protect the Bristol Bay fishery.

Read the story

Hear the story

Pedro Bay Corporation takes official position against Pebble mine (Pedro Bay Corporation – March 23, 2015)

Citing "unquantifiable impacts" that a transportation corridor between a deep water port and the Pebble deposit could have on its lands, the Pedro Bay Corporation Board of Directors has taken a position against development of the mine. According to an official press release, Pedro Bay Corporation has analyzed the positive and negative impacts the development would likely have on its land holdings for more than a decade. The board unanimously voted that the Pebble Limited Partnership does not meet its standards for responsible development.

Read the press release.

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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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20 January 2015

News Roundup: January 22, 2015

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.

Read the story

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.

Read the story.

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.

Read the story.

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.

Read the story.



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