Northern Dynasty seeks to overturn Alaska mine veto

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Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd. (NDM-TSX, NAK-NYSE) said it has filed two separate actions in the federal courts challenging the U.S. government’s actions to prevent the company and its U.S. subsidiary from building a mine at its flagship Pebble gold and copper mine in Alaska.

The first action, in the Federal District Court in Alaska, seeks to vacate the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) veto of a development at Pebble. “This is the main focus of our legal actions,’’ the company said. “We are confident that the court will vacate the EPA veto and allow permitting of the Pebble project to resume because, as we have previously stated, the veto violated the law and was arbitrary and capricious,’’ Northern Dynasty said in a press release.

“Whatever authority the EPA may have under section 404(C), the general purpose of the Clean Water Act cannot authorize the EPA to take action to block the specific economic activity that was Congress’s express purpose for granting these lands to the State of Alaska under the Cook Inlet Land Exchange,’’ said Northern Dynasty President and CEO Ron Thiessen.

“It cannot authorize the EPA to override the State’s regulatory preferences for the lands, or the State’s preference to allow modest use of some streams and wetlands in the vicinity of the deposit to facilitate the extraction of valuable critical minerals,’’ he said. “This is just another example of gross EPA overreach of the powers granted to it by Congress.’’

The company said another action is being filed in the United States Court of Federal Claims in Washington, D.C., claiming that the actions by the EPA constitute an unconstitutional “taking” of Northern Dynasty’s and the Pebble Partnership’s property. “We plan to ask the court to defer considering this action until the EPA veto case, discussed above, has been finally resolved.’’

“Our priority is to advance the District Federal Court Complaint, because overturning the illegal veto removes a major impediment from the path of getting the permit to build the proposed mine,’’ Thiessen said. “This filing of the takings complaint puts the U.S. Government on notice that we will be seeking very substantial compensation if they continue to illegally block the lawful permitting process,’’ he said. “It is basically an insurance policy, ensuring that this case is available to us, when, or if, we decide to pursue it further.’’

Northern Dynasty shares advanced on the news, rising 1.13% or $0.005 to 44.5 cents. The shares trade in a 52-week range of 58 cents and 28 cents.

Northern Dynasty has spent the last two decades trying to develop the Pebble Project, which located on a contiguous block of 1,840 mineral claims in southwestern Alaska. First discovered in 1989, the project ranks as one of the world’s largest undeveloped gold-copper resources.

The EPA veto determined that the Pebble project would cause large-scale loss and damage to the Bristol Bay watershed, and prohibited the project from dumping mining waste into those waters.

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