Northern Dynasty Comments at Public Hearings on the EPA’s Draft Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment Report
VANCOUVER, May 31, 2012 /PRNewswire/ – Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd.
(“Northern Dynasty” or the “Company”) (TSX: NDM; NYSE Amex: NAK) made a
presentation today at the public hearings in Seattle, Washington
regarding the draft Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment report released by
the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on May 18, 2012.
The complete text of the presentation by Sean Magee, Northern Dynasty’s
Vice President, Public Affairs, is provided below:
My name is Sean Magee, and I’m here today on behalf of Northern Dynasty
Minerals – a 50% owner of the Pebble Project.
I am also here to represent our shareholders, some three-quarters of
whom are residents of the United States.
I’d like to begin by saying that when we first learned the EPA had
initiated the Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment, we welcomed it.
We welcomed it because, in launching the assessment, the EPA had
rejected the idea of pre-emptively vetoing the Pebble Project because
there existed insufficient information to do so. We agreed with that
conclusion then and we agree with it today.
However, we also felt the Watershed Assessment presented a unique
opportunity to inject some science into what has become an extremely
volatile, politicized and emotional debate.
We felt that if the EPA could apply its experience and good objective
science, then the Watershed Assessment would surely present a more
realistic view of the potential effects of mine development in
southwest Alaska. We believed it would more realistically frame the
issues of risk and reward, and correct the popular myth that a modern
mine occupying less than one-twentieth of 1% of the land base, within a
400 square mile area that produces just one half of 1% of Bristol Bay
sockeye salmon, could somehow wipe out an entire fishery.
That would have been a positive contribution to the public discussion
around Pebble. It would have eliminated the extremes of rhetoric that
have characterized this debate for years, and helped prepare
stakeholders for the federal and state permitting process to come.
Unfortunately, that did not happen.
The draft Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment report is a fundamentally
flawed document that reflects more on the state of politics and
advocacy surrounding Pebble than on science. And that is a terrible
We are hopeful that the final report will present a more objective and
informed view. If not, the EPA will only have succeeded in fanning the
flames of controversy surrounding Pebble, exacerbating a dynamic that
has pitted individual families, communities and industries against one
Why do we believe the Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment is flawed?
Principally because it is premature.
By the EPA’s own admission, it has evaluated the effects of a
‘hypothetical project’ – a project that has not been defined and for
which key environmental mitigation strategies are not known.
You don’t have to be a scientist to understand that you cannot assess
the effects of what you don’t know. That is why every natural resource
project in this country is assessed by federal and state regulators
after a proponent has finalized its studies and applied for a permit.
The Pebble Project should be treated no differently.
The Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment is flawed because it was rushed.
The Pebble Partnership has invested some $150 million over eight years
to study the ecological and social environment surrounding Pebble.
Not only has the EPA spent a small fraction of the time and effort to
study a much larger area – 20,000 square miles.
They also failed to fully consider the data that the Pebble Partnership
provided as part of its 27,000-page Environmental Baseline Document.
The EPA has said that information, provided to them last December, came
too late to bear their full consideration.
We believe it is wrong, and flies in the face of objective scientific
enquiry to reject what is indisputably the best data set available on
this region because of political expediency.
Northern Dynasty also has serious concerns about the extent to which
this report is based on the findings of two previous reports prepared
by environmental activists. We are still conducting our review, and
fully intend to provide our critique to the EPA, to the independent
peer review panel once it is formed, as well as to public and media
But the clear evidence is that the EPA has relied substantially upon
advocacy materials prepared by environmental groups to inform its
The combination of assessing a ‘hypothetical’ mine plan, leaning heavily
on environmental activists for scientific information, and refusing to
fully consider the scientific work completed by Pebble as part of its
Environmental Baseline Document, has contributed in no small part to
the deep flaws inherent in this document.
Ultimately, no one can make meaningful judgments about Pebble and the
effects it may have on fish and water in southwest Alaska before the
project is designed, proposed and evaluated under the National
Environmental Policy Act or NEPA.
The Environmental Impact Statement prepared for Pebble under NEPA will
be fully informed by Pebble’s proposed development plan, its mitigation
strategies for protecting fish and water, and the advanced
environmental studies it has undertaken.
The EIS will be prepared and vetted by third-part y experts and reviewed
by federal and state regulatory agencies and the general public. It is
indisputably the most comprehensive, objective and appropriate vehicle
for measuring Pebble’s true effects.
We certainly hope and expect that the EPA will be fully engaged in
reviewing the Pebble EIS during the NEPA permitting process in the
There are other troubling inclusions in the draft Watershed Assessment
report – instances where it appears that data and corresponding maps
and figures have been distorted. We are not prepared to speak to those
instances today, as we are still evaluating them with our consultants
and legal experts.
However, it appears this report may violate the Data Quality Act and
other guidelines provided by the federal Office of Management and
Budget to ensure that government agencies “maximize the quality,
objectivity, utility and integrity” of the information they create,
collect and disseminate.
As it stands today, we believe this report is a seriously flawed
document that sheds far more heat than light on the potential effects
and opportunities associated with modern mine development in southwest
We strongly encourage the EPA to slow down this process…to provide for
longer and more meaningful public review …and to commit to using the
best science available to assess the risks and opportunities associated
with Pebble, rather than rushing ahead with a study that is premature
and fails to meet government’s own standards for “good science’ in the
Northern Dynasty will participate fully in the upcoming public and peer
review processes in an effort to contribute to a final Watershed
Assessment report that is fair, objective and science-based.
Ultimately though, we have every confidence that the Pebble Project will
be assessed by federal and state agencies – including the EPA – under
NEPA. That is as it should be, and we look forward to the opportunity
for the Pebble Partnership to present its proposed development plan,
its mitigation strategies and science within a process that is both
rigorous and demanding, but also fair and objective.
Thank you for your attention today.
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
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.
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 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.
SOURCE Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd.