Northern Dynasty calls EPA’s Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment process ‘biased and manipulative’
VANCOUVER, June 4, 2013 /PRNewswire/ – Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd.
(“Northern Dynasty” or the “Company”) (TSX: NDM; NYSE MKT: NAK) has
filed a 205-page submission with the US Environmental Protection Agency
(EPA) in response to its call for public comments on the revised draft
Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment (BBWA), calling the draft report and
process to complete it ‘biased, manipulative and contrary to EPA’s own guidelines.’
Northern Dynasty President & CEO Ronald Thiessen said the 2013 draft
BBWA released in April suffers from the same major shortcomings as the
original report published in May 2012 – in particular, that EPA
continues to assess the environmental effects of a hypothetical mine of
its own invention, one that does not employ modern engineering
standards, environmental safeguards or project-specific mitigation
measures and could not be permitted under US or Alaska law.
Although EPA’s ‘hypothetical mine’ is sited at the location of the
Pebble deposit, BBWA authors continue to refuse to consider the most
extensive scientific data set available on the region – environmental
baseline data collected by the Pebble Limited Partnership (the “Pebble
Partnership” or “PLP”) at a cost of some $150 million. The failure to
fully consider PLP’s environmental data is contrary to EPA’s own
guidelines for data quality, and is compounded by the fact that BBWA
study authors have never set foot on the Pebble Project site.
“The Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment process has truly become the
theatre of the absurd,” Thiessen said. “Rather than waiting for the Pebble Partnership to submit a proposed
development plan for consideration by federal and state regulatory
agencies under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), something
that is expected to occur this year, EPA has invented its own
hypothetical mine, it has continued to ignore modern mine engineering
practices and regulatory requirements, it has shunned the best
available scientific and environmental data at its disposal, and it has
created a public and peer review process designed to minimize
scientific scrutiny of its work.
“We believe the Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment process to be a cynical
effort to manipulate public perception about a project before it has
been proposed or undergone federal and state permitting. And we believe
the draft BBWA to be a fundamentally biased report that should have no
bearing on the future of America’s most important undeveloped mineral
Northern Dynasty’s letter to EPA Acting Administrator Bob Perciasepe
states the federal agency has further failed to provide for an open,
objective and transparent public and scientific review of the 2013
draft BBWA by unnecessarily restricting public comment opportunities on
a 1,300+ page document and restricting public access to its Peer Review
Panel, ignoring the agency’s own guidelines for scientific peer review.
“While unprecedented, Northern Dynasty said at the outset of the BBWA
process that EPA’s study could have served a valuable purpose for
project stakeholders and the people of southwest Alaska if it provided
an objective, science-based assessment of the true risks and
opportunities associated with modern mine development in the region
prior to the onset of project permitting,” Thiessen said. “Unfortunately in its current form, the BBWA is not an objective,
science-based assessment but a demonstrably flawed and biased document
now being used to substantial effect by the anti-development community
to manipulate public and political opinion about one of America’s
greatest assets, the Pebble Project.”
Other materials submitted by Northern Dynasty to EPA include:
-- a summary report with numerous examples that demonstrate how BBWA study authors have distorted the potential effects of a mine designed and operated to modern engineering standards on the natural resources of Bristol Bay, relating to study methodology, steady state mine operations and range of failure scenarios;
-- a summary of independent peer review reports on seven studies prepared by environmental organizations and anti-Pebble activists, all of which figure prominently in the 2013 draft BBWA. Although commissioned by EPA, assumedly to bolster the scientific credibility of the activists' studies, the peer reviewers instead highlight significant problems with scientific methodology and highly questionable or wholly inadequate conclusions;
-- a summary of EPA's failure in the 2013 BBWA report to meaningfully address criticisms that the 'hypothetical mine' evaluated in the original draft does not employ modern engineering standards, as outlined in a report from Geosyntec Consultants (2012 and 2013), and directed by Dr. Michael Kavanaugh, a registered professional engineer and member of the National Academy of Engineering with 39 years of experience in water quality and groundwater restoration; and
-- a report on well-established and time-proven fish habitat rehabilitation, mitigation and enhancement practices and opportunities, which demonstrates the extensive opportunities to enhance fish habitat productivity in the Pebble Project area as part of project development. This report clearly contradicts the BBWA's unfounded conclusion that mitigation for potential fish habitat impacts associated with Pebble is not possible.
“The Pebble Project represents far too important a resource for the
Bristol Bay region, the State of Alaska and the United States to have
its fate decided by a biased and manipulative study,” Thiessen said, citing the 15,000 US jobs and $2.4 billion-plus annual
GDP contribution forecast in a recent economic impact study of the
Pebble Project. http://www.northerndynastyminerals.com/ndm/NEIStudy.asp
“Given the national significance of the project and the significant
shortcomings of the 2013 BBWA draft, we remain confident that future
development of Pebble will ultimately be determined by federal and
state regulators working within the objective NEPA permitting process
to enforce the robust environmental protection standards of the United
States and Alaska.”
To view Northern Dynasty’s critique of the revised draft Bristol Bay
Watershed Assessment report, visit the home page of our website at www.northerndynasty.com.
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 500 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
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 potential mine feasibility, economic effects, 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 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 an open pit and/or 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. The mineralization at the Pebble Project has not yet been classified as ore and there is no assurance that it 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.