ALASKA – The US Environmental Protection Agency has begun a process to withdraw a proposed determination that has restricted development of the Pebble copper-gold project 300 km from Anchorage in the southwest part of the state.
Exploration drilling at the Pebble deposit has outlined 81.5 billion lb. of copper and 107 million oz. of gold. (Credit: Northern Dynasty Minerals)
Project owner Northern Dynasty Minerals of Vancouver said the company’s operating subsidiary, Pebble Limited Partnership, has reached a settlement that allows the project to proceed into normal course permitting under the Act and the National Environmental Policy Act. The original determination was issued in 2014 under the Clean Water Act.
With the change of government in the United States last January, comes a new EPA administrator, Scott Pruitt, who has stated that he does not support the earlier, unprecedented pre-emptive veto that was initiated by his predecessor. The 2014 determination was made before a formal mine plan or a wetlands permit application was submitted by Northern Dynasty.
The Pebble partnership has four years from May 2017 to complete a final environmental impact statement. The project must also start the permit application process within 30 months of that date. The partnership has also agreed to drop two lawsuits it brought against the EPA.
The Pebble project has what is probably the world’s largest undeveloped copper-gold deposit – 6.44 billion measured and indicated tonnes containing 57 billion lb. of copper, 70 million oz. of gold, 3.4 billion lb. of molybdenum, and 344 million oz. of silver. In the inferred category, there are another 4.46 billion tonnes containing 24.5 billion lb. of copper, 37 million oz. of gold, 2.2 billion lb of molybdenum, and 170 million oz. of silver.
Details of the Pebble project are available at www.NorthernDynastyMinerals.com.