Canadian Mining Journal


COPPER-GOLD: Pebble project dealt further blow

ALASKA – The US Environmental Protection Agency dealt another blow to the Pebble copper-gold project 380 km from Anchorage when it issued the report of an independent study saying that the agency had not erred in making a predetermination on the project’s impact on the Bristol Bay watershed.

The EPA previously denied owner Northern Dynasty Minerals of Vancouver from permission to advance the project by predetermining that mining would cause environmental harm to the salmon population and local communities that rely on fishing. The agency took advantage of its veto power to prevent Northern Dynasty from applying to place dredged or fill material in any part of the watershed.

Northern Dynasty challenged the use of the veto, saying the EPA could not possibly make an informed decision in light of the fact that the company had not yet submitted a project description or wetlands permit application. But after a 17-month review, the office of the inspector general for the EPA determined that the agency acted within the law.

Northern Dynasty has officially expressed “disappointment” with the narrow scope and limited findings of the inspector general’s report. The company remains confident, saying in a release, “With litigation against EPA pending, a preliminary injunction in place, and several US Congressional committees pursuing investigations into EPA misconduct, the Pebble Limited Partnership’s [the operator] standoff with EPA will be resolved this year, leaving PLP free to initiate federal and state permitting unencumbered by any extraordinary development restrictions.”

The Pebble story is far from over. Meanwhile the world’s largest undeveloped copper-gold deposit will remain that: undeveloped.


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