Northern Dynasty CEO predicts Pebble permit within three years

Northern Dynasty Minerals CEO Ron Thiessen presented at the Denver Gold Forum last week, sharing an updated company presentation and optimism for permitting of the copper/gold/molybdenum prospect within three years.

Thiessen’s presentation focused on four main areas. We’ve bulleted the highlights for you here, or you can watch in its entirety.


  • EPA settlement has brought potential partners “back to the table.” Negotiations are well underway.
  • Convincing partners to accept a smaller mine footprint is part of the process, because that’s how to increase probability of getting a permit. “There was a lot of work to be done on what kind of project to take into permitting. The mining industry has one view of how to assess projects. The permitting and regulatory industry has another. We look at projects as the throughput and outcome. Regulators look at footprint and impacts. As we try to grow the economic outcomes, our footprint grows and so does our impact. Those two models clash significantly. We have to find a happy accommodation to that and convince partners that’s the way we need to look at the project.”

Mine plan

  • Thiessen said they have eliminated geological risks, process engineering risks, any risks related to engineering and noted that one positive outcome of EPA’s Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment is that the company was able to address all its concerns upfront in detail.
  • “The reality is mines start off at certain size and scale and then they change. It’s not a static business. Sometimes they change for commodity price reasons, other times, to gain economies of scale, or technologies change.”


  • “EIS will show that this is a very normal project, very normal process. Pebble is going to get a permit.”
  • If permitting docs are submitted by end of year, they anticipate a functional Record of Decision within three years.
  • They have done a decade’s work in an area 400 sq. miles around the site and “really understand the district on a large scale.”

Mine life-span

  • Pebble is “poly-metallic” with recoverable metals to include copper, gold, molybdenum, silver, renium, and palladium.
  • Pebble is a multi-generational opportunity. Porphyry deposits generally appear in clusters. “The size and scale of Pebble leads to a long-life mine, representing development for perhaps centuries into the future, with other nearby mining opportunities too.”
  • Old pits can be used for new tailings sites without increasing the footprint of the project.

Social and environmental aspects

  • These aspects are key to its success, at the forefront of everything they are planning to do in permitting and developing the operation.
  • Want to address issues and concerns, and share in benefits of the operation.
  • Provide employment in a region devoid of industry, except for a 2-3 month fishing industry.


  • Have a perception problem; they are starting to address it.
  • Local partnerships are key.
  • Have established an Advisory committee. They want members to present concerns and their worst outcomes so we can realistically address those issues.
  • Going to create an entity to share in financial outcomes.
  • Ideas for providing low cost power for fishing industry in Bristol Bay and other villages.

Positioning in the marketplace

  • Copper will be needed for electrification of the automobile.
  • Pebble ideally positioned to take advantage of this, coming into production in 2024 or 2025.