Northern Dynasty Minerals’ (TSX: NDM) shares jumped Aug. 19 after the company revealed that the Alaska Republican Party officially endorsed its proposed Pebble copper-gold-molybdenum mine.
The stock climbed almost 5% in Toronto at opening from C$2.02 to C$2.12 as the Canadian miner published excerpts of a party resolution. The document, dated Aug. 9, says it “unequivocally” supported the responsible development of the Pebble mine.
It also highlights that the operation would create more than 1,000 jobs, contribute to the state treasury and benefit Alaskans in what it describes as an otherwise impoverished area.
The Bristol Bay area, where the mine would be located, is the world’s largest commercial sockeye salmon-producing region. Opponents of the project have long feared its discharges would contaminate local waters, causing irreparable damage to the aquatic habitat.
Public figures, including Donald Trump Jr., have recently come out against the project, which is supported by the Trump administration.
Pebble’s permitting process has been surrounded by controversy and delays. Perhaps one of the most publicized issues was the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) decision in 2014 to propose restricting the discharge of mining waste and other material in the area.
Ongoing criticism prompted the Vancouver-based company to submit a new, smaller mine plan that includes lined tailings, and discards the use of cyanide in the gold extraction process.
Pebble began moving forward after the election of Donald Trump in November 2016. In July last year, Northern Dynasty scored a big win as the EPA scrapped the restrictions on mining operations in Bristol Bay, which prevented the project’s consideration.
The agency also issued a letter at the time, saying the project may result in substantial and unacceptable impacts to aquatic resources. That observation was a specific step in a sequence established to deal with interagency disagreements over Clean Water Act permits.
A draft version of the environmental impact statement (EIS) released in February, however, indicated that the project could coexist with the fisheries and water resources of the Bristol Bay area.
In May, the EPA issuing a letter that downplayed the possible loss of streams and other wetlands the project could cause.
Northern Dynasty also faces the prospect that the next administration blocks the project once again, as happened during Obama’s presidency, should Democrats win the White House in the fall.
A coalition of local residents and national environmental groups has also vowed to challenge the permit in court.
Northern Dynasty said in August that any action by a future administration to deny its permits for the massive project would be promptly overturned, given the favourable findings of the final EIS released by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in July.