Northern Dynasty Minerals (TSX: NDM; NYSE:NAK), the company behind the controversial Pebble copper-gold-molybdenum-silver project in Alaska, has released an environmental, social and governance (ESG) report for the proposed mine, as it awaits the results of an appeal to the U.S. government’s decision to block the development.
The Vancouver-based gold junior, which early this year appealed the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ (USACE’s) negative Record of Decision (ROD) for the proposed project in the Bristol Bay, said the ESG document would help buts some of the myths and biases towards the now stalled project.
The USACE originally had said in July last year, Pebble would “not have measurable effects” on fish populations or fisheries in southwest Alaska.
But the lead federal regulator published a ROD on November 25 denying Pebble a key permit under the Clean Water Act on the grounds that its “compensatory mitigation plan” was non-compliant and the project was not in the “public interest.”
“For many reasons, including the Pebble deposit’s size and significance, its location in a vast region that supports world-class fisheries, and the active campaigning of national environmental organisations, the Pebble project has been marked by public controversy and rhetoric,” Northern Dynasty president and chief executive Ron Thiessen said in a statement on April 27.
“It’s unfortunate because so much of the good work done to plan, permit, develop and operate a modern copper mine at Pebble that would, in many ways, set a new standard for responsible mineral development in the U.S. has been obscured,” Thiessen said.
The report summarizes the major ESG polices, planning and engineering approaches, as well as the social commitments the company has made since acquiring the project in 2001.
Supported by fundamentals
Investors reacted positively to the news, with the stock climbing 1.76% to 61 cents US in early trading in New York, still below the multi-year high of US$1.94 per share it reached last July. While the company’s shares have encountered substantial volatility recently, they are up around 74% so far this year.
“Much of the drama and debate surrounding Northern Dynasty’s stock involves the company’s ability (or lack thereof) to develop this project,” InvestorPlace’s analyst Louis Navellier wrote in early April.
If Northern Dynasty wins the battle and gets Pebble permitted, it would be North America’s largest mine. Pebble has measured and indicated resources of 6.5 billion tonnes grading 0.40% copper, 0.34 gram gold per tonne, 240 parts per million molybdenum, 1.7 grams silver per tonne and 0.41 parts per million rhenium, for 57 billion pounds of copper, 70.6 million oz. gold, 3.42 billion lb. molybdenum and 345 million oz. of silver.
Inferred resources add another 4.5 billion tonnes grading 0.25% copper, 0.25 gram gold, 226 ppm molybdenum, 1.2 grams silver and 0.36 ppm rhenium, for contained metal of 25 billion lb. copper, 36 million oz. gold, 2.22 billion lb. molybdenum and 170 million oz. of silver.
However, the mine would also create a pit 1,970 feet deep (600 metres) in Alaska’s Bristol Bay watershed.
Opponents warn the project puts more than US$1 billion of revenue and over 10,000 jobs at risk as it threatens the region’s world-class sockeye salmon fishery.