Northern Dynasty faces Pebble Project setback in Alaska

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Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd. [NDM-TSX; NAK-NYSE] said its application for key permits required for the development of its giant Pebble copper-gold deposit in southwest Alaska has been denied.

The company said its 100%-owned U.S. subsidiary Pebble Limited Partnership received formal notification of the decision from the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE).

“The lead federal regulator found Pebble’s compensatory mitigation plan as submitted earlier this month to be non-compliant, and that the project is not in the public interest,” Northern Dynasty said in a press release on November 25, 2020.

Northern Dynasty called the decision ‘politically motivated’ and said it is fundamentally unsupported by the administrative record as development by the USACE through the Environmental Impact Statement process for the Pebble Project. The company said it intends to launch an administrative appeal of the USACE decision to deny Northern Dynasty’s application for permits under the Clean Water Act and other federal statutes.

“At a time when the United States has declared a ‘national emergency’ due to its over-reliance on foreign producers for critical minerals required to ensure the country’s future economic and military security, it is unconscionable to determine that permitting and development of one of the greatest accumulations of strategic and critical minerals ever discovered on American soil is ‘not in the public interest,’ Northern Dynasty said.

The company said it intends to appeal the decision within the next 60 days. The announcement is the latest development in a long-running saga.

The Pebble Project is estimated to contain 6.456 billion tonnes in the measured and indicated categories grading 0.40% copper, 0.34 g/t gold, 240 ppm molybdenum, containing 57 billion lbs copper, 71 million oz gold, 3.4 billion lbs molybdenum and 345 million oz silver, plus rhenium values.

President Trump revived the project early in his term after the Obama administration blocked it, but opposition from prominent politicians saying it would harm the state’s billion-dollar salmon industry prompted an about-face from the outgoing Trump administration.

On November 25, after permitting decision was announced, the shares lost over 50% of their value in heavy trading over more than 19.2 million. On Thursday, shares dropped another 12.7% or $0.065 to 44.5 cents on volume of 5.4 million. The shares are trading in a 52-week range of $3.28 and 45 cents.

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