Northern Dynasty comments on National Marine Fisheries Service status review
of Lake Iliamna Seals
VANCOUVER, May 17, 2013
VANCOUVER, May 17, 2013 /PRNewswire/ - The US National Marine Fisheries
Services (NMFS) has announced it will conduct a 12-month assessment of the
biological status of harbor seals in Southwest Alaska's Lake Iliamna, in
response to the Center for Biological Diversity's (CBD) November 2012
submission of a "Petition to List Iliamna Lake Seal, a Distinct Population
Segment of Pacific Harbour Seal (Phoca vitulina richardsi) under the
Endangered Species Act".
NMFS is the lead federal agency responsible for research, management and
conservation of seals and other sea mammals in the United States. Under the US
Endangered Species Act (ESA), any party can petition the government to list a
species as threatened or endangered. In response to the CBD's petition
regarding Lake Iliamna seals, the NMFS has agreed to conduct a status review
and consider the best scientific and commercial information available to
determine whether a threatened or endangered species listing or designation of
critical habitat is warranted.
In today's notice, NMFS stated "We have reviewed the petition, the literature
cited in the petition, and other literature and information available in our
files; we identified numerous factual errors, misquoted and incomplete
references, and unsupported conclusions within the petition. Our review
indicates that there is uncertainty and conflicting information specific to
harbor seals in Iliamna Lake."
"In the past, NMFS has stated that it is not known whether Lake Iliamna seals
are genetically isolated from other harbor seals in Bristol Bay," said Ron
Thiessen, President & CEO of Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd. ("Northern
Dynasty" or the "Company") (TSX: NDM; NYSE MKT: NAK). "Now they have agreed
that the question justifies additional assessment.
"Northern Dynasty and the Pebble Limited Partnership (the "Pebble Partnership"
or "PLP") have invested a great deal of time and money studying environmental
conditions in the Lake Iliamna area. and wesupport the research and
conservation efforts of the US federal government. Ultimately, whether the
Lake Iliamna seals are considered to be a distinct population segment or not,
Northern Dynasty is confident that development of the project by the Pebble
Partnership will not affect their habitat or their numbers."
Lake Iliamna is located on the Alaska Peninsula approximately 15 miles south
of the Pebble Project, and is connected to Bristol Bay via the Kvichak River.
It is not known how long harbor seals have inhabited the lake or whether they
are permanent residents, as harbor seals are known to migrate from salt water
to fresh water in other parts of North America. The Pebble Partnership has
collected scientific data on harbor seals in Lake Iliamna as part of its
27,000 page Environmental Baseline Document (EBD), which suggests that the
seals experience no geographical barriers to movement between Lake Iliamna and
Bristol Bay. PLP has submitted its technical review of the CBD's Lake Iliamna
seal petition to NMFS and will continue to engage in public comment
opportunities associated with the agency's 12-month status review process.
"The fact is, whether or not this local seal population warrants a listing,
they will not be affected by the Pebble Project," Thiessen said. "We
appreciate that Lake Iliamna, its harbor seals and all the aquatic life it
supports are important food and cultural resources for the Alaska Native
people of the region. Pebble is developing a mine plan that will ensure these
resources are protected for the use and enjoyment of future generations,
regardless of whether the Lake Iliamna seal population is considered distinct
To begin the status review, NMFS has opened a 60-day comment period ending on
July 16 in an effort to collect information that addresses biological and
other information that is known about the species, conservation efforts
currently in place, whether the known threats (if any) rise to the level of
supporting a listing, and ultimately whether Lake Iliamna harbor seals qualify
as a distinct population segment.
The NFMS status review of Lake Iliamna seals is due to be published in the
Federal Register by November 2013. If the NFMS warrants a threatened or
endangered listing for Lake Iliamna harbor seals under the ESA, the federal
agency must then define critical habitat for the species within one year. A
'critical habitat' designation does not establish a preserve or refuge, but is
defined as a specific geographic area that contains the physical and
biological features essential to the conservation of a species. Before
critical habitat is designated, careful consideration is given to impacts on
specific areas, including potential economic impacts.
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.
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.com and US public filings atwww.sec.gov.
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