Northern Dynasty comments on the EPA’s draft Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment report

 Northern Dynasty comments on the EPA’s draft Bristol Bay Watershed  Assessment report  VANCOUVER, May 22, 2012 /CNW/ - Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd. ("Northern  Dynasty" or the "Company") (TSX: NDM; NYSE Amex: NAK) comments on the draft  Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment report released by the U.S. Environmental  Protection Agency (EPA) on May 18, 2012, calling the initiative to study  potential effects of mineral development in a vast region of southwest Alaska  'rushed and inadequate.'  "As Northern Dynasty and subsequently as part of the Pebble Partnership, we  have invested nearly 10 years and hundreds of millions of dollars studying the  natural and human environment surrounding the Pebble Project, and methodically  advancing a development strategy that will allow us to develop the globally  significant resources of copper, gold and molybdenum there while protecting  fisheries, water quality and traditional ways of life," said Northern Dynasty  President & CEO Ron Thiessen,  "So to suggest that the EPA over a course of a single year can meaningfully  study a region of some 20,000 square miles and assess the effects of a project  for which a final design is not yet complete, and for which key environmental  mitigation strategies are yet being developed, is pure hubris. We have every  expectation that the deep flaws in the draft Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment  report will be exposed during the scientific peer review and public comment  processes to come over the next several months."  Thiessen referred to the public statement on the EPA's draft Bristol Bay  Watershed Assessment report released by the Pebble Limited Partnership (the  "Pebble Partnership" or "PLP") Chief Executive Officer John Shively last week:  Pebble CEO Calls EPA Process Rushed and Inadequate  "As long‐time proponents of responsible resource development in Alaska, we  have significant concerns regarding the EPA's approach to the Bristol Bay  Watershed Assessment. We believe that the EPA has rushed its assessment  process, and that this is especially problematic in light of the large size of  the study area. We have taken several years and expended considerable  resources to study the ecosystem in a small area around the Pebble deposit,  while the EPA has, in only one year and with limited resources, completed a  draft assessment in relation to an area of approximately 20,000 square miles.  We believe that this explains why the EPA's work has not yet approached the  level of rigor and completeness required for a scientific assessment.  "Furthermore, we are concerned that the EPA may use this rushed process as the  basis for an unprecedented regulatory action against the Pebble Project. We  believe it would be unprecedented and entirely inappropriate for the EPA to  take steps to stop our project before it has been fully designed, before we  have presented an environmental mitigation strategy designed to protect the  fish and water resources of the area, before we have completed an economic  benefits study and before we have submitted a permit application and started  the rigorous permitting process. Until we complete our work and submit an  application under NEPA, the EPA's work as it relates to our project is based  entirely on speculation.  "The Pebble deposit is located on State of Alaska lands that are open to  mineral exploration and development. As such, the State has expressed strong  objection about the entire process the EPA is undertaking in this area. At  Statehood, the federal government granted Alaska access to lands in order to  develop an economy for the new state. Federal intrusions such as those  facilitated by the EPA's watershed assessment initiative clearly strike at the  heart of the agreement between the state and the federal government, and could  have a chilling effect on future resource development investments in Alaska.  "Further, this entire process is particularly disappointing because it seems  to directly conflict with the stated goals of President Obama, who has said  that U.S. government agencies need to simplify and streamline permitting and  regulatory processes to help the economy and create jobs. This is an example  of the Environmental Protection Agency doing exactly the opposite by adding  new hurdles to the rigorous and established regulatory process.  "It is worth noting that PLP has spent several years and expended significant  resources studying a substantially smaller land area surrounding Pebble, while  the EPA's limited time frame allocated to studying natural resources in this  vast area comes nowhere near providing the science needed to adequately  conduct their assessment. We certainly don't question the appropriate  statutory role of the EPA in evaluating projects like the Pebble Project. In  fact, we voluntarily provided over 20,000 pages of detailed environmental  studies to the EPA to assist their understanding of this complex ecosystem and  we are convinced the agency did not utilize the information in a meaningful  way due to the artificial short time frame they have used to reach a  conclusion. We do take strong exception to this misguided effort that steps  outside of the well‐established regulatory process to rush through this  watershed assessment to potentially reach pre‐ordained conclusions.  "Additionally, the draft watershed assessment is fundamentally flawed for the  following reasons:        --  the EPA has undertaken to study in one year a nearly 20,000         square mile area in Southwest Alaska ‐ about the size of         the states of Maryland and New Jersey combined - that would         need several years of diligent effort to achieve its stated         goals;     --  the EPA has attempted to assess the effects of a project that         has not yet been finalized or undergone the rigorous permitting         process required by State and federal law;     --  the EPA has prepared and distributed a report that does not         live up to the agency's own standards for undertaking watershed         assessments, as reflected in EPA guidance and assessment         activities in other U.S. jurisdictions. Specifically, the draft         report: relies on a hypothetical mining project with         hypothetical environmental impacts; estimates impacts resulting         from only one stressor source (i.e. mining), notwithstanding         Region 10 policy to address environmental risks "in a         comprehensive, holistic fashion" reflects an unprecedented         narrow focus on a single mining project and single policy         option; and improperly adds economic analysis, and then in a         biased fashion.  "Many statewide business and trade associations as well as Alaska Native  tribes and village corporations have expressed similar concerns and objections  about the EPA's actions and have asked the EPA to stop its work until a formal  permit application is in front of the agency. The investment uncertainties  created by the EPA's short‐sighted actions have the potential to inhibit  development projects not only throughout Alaska, but nationwide."  About the Pebble Project  The Pebble Project is an initiative of the Pebble Partnership to responsibly  develop a globally significant copper, gold and molybdenum deposit in  southwest Alaska into a modern, long-life mine. The project is located 200  miles southwest of Anchorage on state land designated through two public land  use planning exercises for mineral exploration and development. It is situated  approximately 1,000 feet above sea-level, 65 miles from tidewater on Cook  Inlet and presents favourable conditions for successful mine site and  infrastructure development.  The Pebble Project consists of the Pebble deposit, surrounding mineral claims  and a stream of financing being provided by Northern Dynasty's project partner  Anglo American US (Pebble) LLC. The Pebble Partnership was established in July  2007 as a 50:50 partnership between a wholly-owned affiliate of Northern  Dynasty and a wholly-owned subsidiary of Anglo American plc. Both Northern  Dynasty and Anglo American have equal ownership and direction of the Pebble  Partnership.  Under the terms of the Pebble Limited Partnership Agreement, Anglo American is  required to elect to commit $1.5 billion in staged investments in order to  retain its 50% interest in the Pebble Project. Funds provided by Anglo  American are currently being invested in comprehensive exploration,  engineering, environmental and socioeconomic programs toward the future  development of the Pebble Project.  About Northern Dynasty  Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd. is a mineral exploration and development  company based in Vancouver, Canada, which holds indirect interests in 650  square miles of mineral claims in southwest Alaska, USA. Northern Dynasty's  principal asset is a 50% interest in the Pebble Partnership, owner of the  Pebble Copper-Gold-Molybdenum Project. The Pebble Project is an advanced-stage  initiative to develop one of the most important mineral resources in the world.  Review Canadian public filings at www.sedar.com and US public filings at  www.sec.gov.  Ronald W. Thiessen President & CEO  Sole Responsibility  No regulatory authority accepts responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of  this release. Northern Dynasty is solely and entirely responsible for the  contents of this news release. No other party, including any parties which  have an interest in the project, are in any way responsible for the contents  hereof.  Forward Looking Information and other Cautionary Factors  This release includes certain statements that may be deemed "forward-looking  statements". All statements in this release, other than statements of  historical facts, especially those that address estimated resource quantities,  grades and contained metals, are forward-looking statements because they are  generally made on the basis of estimation and extrapolation from a limited  number of drill holes and metallurgical studies. Although diamond drill hole  core provides valuable information about the size, shape and geology of an  exploration project, there will always remain a significant degree of  uncertainty in connection with these valuation factors until a deposit has  been extensively drilled on closely spaced centers, which has occurred only in  specific areas on the Pebble Project. Although the Company believes the  expectations expressed in its forward-looking statements are based on  reasonable assumptions, such statements should not be in any way construed as  guarantees of the ultimate size, quality or commercial feasibility of the  Pebble Project or of the Company's future performance. The likelihood of  future mining at the Pebble Project is subject to a large number of risks and  will require achievement of a number of technical, economic and legal  objectives, including obtaining necessary mining and construction permits,  completion of pre-feasibility and final feasibility studies, preparation of  all necessary engineering for underground workings and processing facilities  as well as receipt of significant additional financing to fund these  objectives as well as funding mine construction. Such funding may not be  available to the Company on acceptable terms or on any terms at all. There is  no known ore at the Pebble Project and there is no assurance that the  mineralization at the Pebble Project will ever be classified as ore. The need  for compliance with extensive environmental and socio-economic rules and  practices and the requirement for the Company to obtain government permitting  can cause a delay or even abandonment of a mineral project. The Company is  also subject to the specific risks inherent in the mining business as well as  general economic and business conditions. For more information on the Company,  Investors should review the Company's annual Form 40-F filing with the United  States Securities and Exchange Commission and its home jurisdiction filings  that are available at www.sedar.com.  For further details on Northern Dynasty please visit the Company's  website  atwww.northerndynasty.com or contact Investor services at (604) 684-6365 or  within North America  at 1-800-667-2114.  To view this news release in HTML formatting, please use the following URL:  http://www.newswire.ca/en/releases/archive/May2012/22/c9436.html  CO: Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd. ST: British Columbia NI: MNG   -0- May/22/2012 12:45 GMT    
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