Northern Dynasty ups resource estimate at giant Pebble Project

Diamond drilling at Northern Dynasty's Pebble Project in Alaska. Source: Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd.

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Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd. [NDM-TSX, NAK-NYSE AMERICAN] has filed a technical report for its giant Pebble Project in southwest Alaska.

Diamond drilling at Northern Dynasty’s Pebble Project in Alaska. Source: Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd.

The highlight of the report is a minor increase in the estimate of the mineral resources at Pebble. The increase results from a change in the metallurgical processing approach as outlined in the Project Description submitted to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in late 2017 and resulted in changes to metal recoveries used to establish the pit shell which constrains the resource estimate.

At a 0.3% copper equivalent cut-off, the current estimate includes 6.456 billion tonnes in the combined measured and indicated categories  at a grade of 0.40% copper, 0.34 g/t gold, 240 ppm molybdenum, containing 57 billion pounds of copper, 71 million ounces of gold, 3.4 billion pounds of molybdenum and 345 million ounces of silver.

Pebble is Northern Dynasty’s principal asset, owned through its Alaska-based subsidiary and other wholly-owned subsidiaries. It consists of 2,402 mineral claims in southwest Alaska.

First discovered in 1989, The Pebble Deposit has been described as one of the greatest stores of mineral wealth on the planet.

However, the project has been a lightning rod for global environmentalists who expressed concerns about the impact of such a large mining operation on local salmon runs.

Late last year, Northern Dynasty President and CEO Ronald Thiessen told a gold and silver mining conference in San Francisco that his company is taking a fresh approach in a renewed attempt to gain a mining permit. Northern Dynasty has indicated that a new mining plan will feature a smaller footprint.

It recently lined up a joint venture partner to replace Anglo American, which had the right to earn a 50% interest in the project, but withdrew from the partnership in September, 2013 after investing US $541 million.

First Quantum Minerals Ltd.  [FM-TSX] recently signed an option deal to potentially earn a 50% interest in the Pebble Project

Under the deal, an affiliate of First Quantum will executive a four-year option agreement requiring the affiliate to pay US $150 million in separate installments, including an initial US $37.5 million. That money that will be applied towards the cost of advancing the permitting process for development of the Pebble project.

The option agreement will entitle the First Quantum affiliate to earn a 50% interest in a partnership which owns the Pebble Project, by investing US$1.35 billion.

First Quantum said its participation in the option agreement is subject to due diligence and necessary regulatory approvals being secured. As a result, final execution of the option deal is not expected to occur until the second quarter of 2018.

Northern Dynasty shares were largely unchanged Friday, rising 1.5% or $0.02 to $1.35. The 52-week range is $3.30 and $1.

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