Northern Dynasty: revised Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment draft fails to
address critical flaws
VANCOUVER, April 26, 2013
Environmental Protection Agency study of 'hypothetical mine' continues under
shroud of secrecy
VANCOUVER, April 26, 2013 /PRNewswire/ - Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd.
("Northern Dynasty" or the "Company") (TSX: NDM; NYSE MKT: NAK) responded
today to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) release of a revised
draft of the Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment (BBWA) report originally
released last spring, reaffirming that the new report fails to correct the
central flaw that critics roundly agree invalidates the original and revised
"You simply cannot assess the effects of a mining project that has not been
proposed, and for which key engineering solutions, environmental safeguards
and site-specific mitigation factors have not been provided," said Ron
Thiessen, President & CEO of Northern Dynasty, a 50% owner of the Pebble
Limited Partnership (the "Pebble Partnership" or "PLP") with Anglo American.
"The EPA has clearly made some effort to address the myriad errors of fact,
methodology and design that professional Peer Reviewers and other commentators
catalogued with respect to the original BBWA draft last year, and we will take
some time to assess those efforts.
"But let's be clear - the Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment process is fatally
flawed, and should have no bearing on the future development of one of
America's most important strategic mineral resources."
The EPA initiated the BBWA in February 2011 to assess the potential effects of
future development, including mining, on the land, people and resources of
40,000 square miles in southwest Alaska. After narrowing the scope of its
exercise on several occasions to focus primarily on the hypothetical
development of the Pebble copper-gold-molybdenum deposit, the EPA received
widespread criticism from a panel of independent Peer Reviewers - who called
EPA's efforts to evaluate the effects of a 'hypothetical mining scenario' on
the water, fish, wildlife and cultural resources of Bristol Bay "inadequate,"
"premature," "unreasonable," "suspect" and "misleading."
Thiessen noted that concerns previously expressed by stakeholders in Alaska
and elsewhere about the federal agency rushing the process and providing
inadequate opportunities for public scrutiny and involvement only seem to be
getting worse. The State of Alaska, Alaska's federal delegation and a majority
of Alaska Native Regional Corporations criticized the EPA last year for
providing inadequate opportunities for public involvement.
"Last year, EPA was criticized for providing a short 60-day public review
period right in the middle of Alaska's fishing season, for holding its initial
public hearings about an Alaska issue in Seattle, and for providing inadequate
opportunities for Peer Reviewers to consider public input," Thiessen said.
"This time around, the public comment period has been cut in half, there will
be no public meetings and there will be zero opportunities for stakeholders to
engage with the independent Peer Review panel. If the lack of transparency and
opportunity for public involvement in this process was a problem before, it's
an even bigger problem today."
Thiessen added that EPA has been criticized for refusing to fully comply with
information requests from three different Congressional committees in
Washington DC, and has not answered basic questions about how much money was
spent on the assessment. EPA also reportedly funded as many as six secret
'peer review' studies of third-party reports related to mineral development in
southwest Alaska to validate the misleading conclusions reached in the initial
draft of the ill-advised BBWA.
"For the BBWA or any other study undertaken in the public interest to be
credible, it must not only apply the best available science and scientific
methodologies, it must also be seen to be fair, open and balanced," Thiessen
said. "I think the Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment has failed on all counts.
As a result, the only appropriate path going forward is for EPA to shelve this
flawed study and allow Pebble to be assessed under the well-established NEPA
Under previous EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, agency officials had expressed
the view that EPA held legal authority under section 404c of the Clean Water
Act to pre-emptively veto development projects it solely deemed to have
unacceptable effects. A vast majority of legal commentators have dismissed
that view, and Thiessen said he is confident that future decisions about
Pebble will be made by federal and state regulators working within the
well-established and understood National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)
"Whether EPA chooses to spend valuable manpower and taxpayer dollars
completing the BBWA report or not, we are confident that a comprehensive mine
development proposal presented by the Pebble Partnership - including
state-of-the-art strategies to protect important water, fish, wildlife and
cultural resources - will ultimately be judged by federal and state regulators
against the rigorous environmental standards of Alaska and the United States,"
he said, adding that PLP's goal is to trigger permitting under NEPA later this
"Pebble is among the most important mineral development projects in the world
today, with the potential to create thousands of US jobs, billions of dollars
in annual economic activity, and the strategic minerals necessary to supply
American manufacturing over decades of production. It is too important a
project to have its future dictated by a fatally flawed and clandestine study,
and I'm confident that the incoming EPA Administrator will share that view."
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, which will benefit not only
the proponent, its partners and the people and culture of the State of
Alaska, but also industries, suppliers and consultants locally and in the
Lower 48 United States of America. The project is located 200 miles southwest
of Anchorage on state land designated for mineral exploration and development.
It is situated in a region of rolling tundra 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 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 Minerals Ltd.
Northern Dynasty is a mineral exploration and development company based in
Vancouver, Canada, which holds indirect interests in over 600 sq. 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 Project. The
Pebble Project is an advanced-stage initiative to develop one of the world's
most important mineral resources.
For further details on Northern Dynasty please visit the Company's website at
www.northerndynasty.com or contact Investor services at (604) 684-6365 or
within North America at 1-800-667-2114. Review Canadian public filings at
www.sedar.com and US public filings at www.sec.gov.
Ronald W. Thiessen
President & CEO
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
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.
SOURCE Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd.
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. Review Canadian public filings
atwww.sedar.comand US public filings atwww.sec.gov.
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