Northern Dynasty awaits final permit at controversial Pebble project

Drill rig at Northern Dynasty's Pebble project in southwestern Alaska. Credit: Northern Dynasty Minerals.

Northern Dynasty Minerals (TSX: NDM) is poised to clear the last hurdle for its proposed Pebble copper-gold mine in Alaska this week, the regulatory chief for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in the state said.

Speaking to reporters late on July 20, Dave Hobbie said a final environmental impact statement (EIS) recommending the development of the US$100 billion mine will be published in the Federal Register on Friday.

The Alaska District officer noted the Army Corps would make an ultimate permit decision no earlier than 30 days after the release of the final EIS.

The project, located near Bristol Bay in southwest Alaska, has been stalled since 2014, when the Obama administration tried to block it on concerns it could harm the state’s salmon industry.

Pebble began moving forward after the change in the U.S. administration. In July last year, Northern Dynasty scored a big win after the EPA scrapped the proposed restrictions on mining operations in Bristol Bay, which prevented the project’s consideration.

The agency also issued a letter saying the project “may” result in substantial and unacceptable impacts to aquatic resources. Such observation was a specific step in a sequence established to deal with inter-agency disagreements over Clean Water Act permits.

A draft version of the EIS, released in February, indicated that the project could coexist with the fisheries and water resources of the Bristol Bay area.

The news was followed in May by the EPA issuing new a letter that downplayed the possible loss of streams and other wetlands the project might cause.

If permitted, Pebble would be North America’s largest mine, according to a study by the Center for Science in Public Participation.

The resource estimate includes 6.5 billion tonnes in the measured and indicated categories containing 57 billion lb. copper and 71 million oz. gold, 3.4 billion lb. molybdenum and 345 million oz. silver.

— This article first appeared in


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