17 November 2016

Pebble Mining Permit Application: Public Comment due November 30

Public comment is due soon on a Miscellaneous Land Use Permit (MLUP) application that Pebble Limited Partnership (PLP) has submitted to the Alaska Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The permit would allow PLP to continue operations on state-owned land at the Pebble deposit area in Bristol Bay. The current MLUP expires on December 31, 2016. 

Exploratory and drilling activities that have been conducted since 1989 at the Pebble site have been possible under a series of MLUPs, which PLP has to renew regularly.

This time, PLP is requesting a two-year permit to conduct maintenance and reclamation activities in an area covering 2,402 mining claims totaling 266,356 acres of state land (claims in orange).


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13 October 2016

News Roundup: October 2016

“Where Water is Gold” Book ReviewAlaska Dispatch News, October 1, 2016

Alaskan author Nancy Lord reviews Carl Johnson’s new photo essay book, Where Water is Gold: Life and Livelihood in Alaska's Bristol Bay. Johnson’s quest, five years in the making, writes Lord, “ was to explore the Bristol Bay region and present it — both its natural environment and people — as a unique and highly valuable place that needs our concern and protection.

Read the review.

Northern Dynasty/Pebble Partnership Cap Legal Costs to Conclude Litigation with US EPAJunior Mining Network, September 29, 2016

According to a press release, Northern Dynasty Minerals/Pebble Limited Partnership and its legal representative Steptoe and Johnson LLP, have agreed to cap litigation costs at $1 million, to ensure an outcome in the ongoing legal battle with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. They expect the court to adjudicate the issues by January 2017.

Read the article.

Read more: "Breaking the impasse," Petroleum News, October 9, 2016

World Conservation Congress endorses Bristol Bay ProtectionsCordova Times, September 1, 2016

A group of conservationists from around the world voted to call on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to support efforts to prevent large-scale mining in the Bristol Bay watershed. The motion was approved along with 104 other motions related to world-wide conservation efforts.

Read the article.

Read more: "Conservationists Support Natives in Protection of Bristol Bay," Indian Country Today, October 6, 2016 

Read the motion.

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15 September 2016

Northern Dynasty Minerals Update

This summer Northern Dynasty Minerals, which owns 100% of the Pebble deposit, had significant changes on its Board of Directors, as well as to its stock price. Here's an update.

 Two new Northern Dynasty Board members opt out

In April, Pebble Watch reported on the make-up of the Northern Dynasty Board of Directors, noting that more than half of its members had fewer than six months’ experience with the company.

Two of those new members – Marcel de Groot and David De Witt – declined to be considered for re-election to the Board during Northern Dynasty’s annual meeting of shareholders. De Groot had joined the Board in December 2015, with De Witt following in February 2016. According to a press release from Northern Dynasty, their decisions came after the company had already sent election information to its shareholders in mid-May.

“Both joined the Board upon the consummation of the Plan of Arrangement with Mission Gold Ltd. in order to see the conclusion of that arrangement, bring some new members to the Board and help provide longer-term strategic guidance,” reads the press release. “Having accomplished these goals, Messrs. De Witt and de Groot have decided to re-focus on other businesses interests.”

New board members as of June 2016 include David Laing and Christian Milau, both executives with TrueGold mining, which focuses on gold mining in West Africa.

Currently five out of eight board members have joined the Northern Dynasty Board board since October of last year.

NDM Board Members


Joined NDM Board


Robert Dickinson, Executive Chairman


Project development

Ron Thiessen, President and CEO


Corporate development

Ken Pickering


Engineering, mining development

Gordon Keep

Oct 2015

Geologist, investment banking, natural resource companies

Desmond Balakrishnan

Dec 2015

Attorney, mergers and acquisitions

Steven Decker

March 2016

Financial analyst, portfolio manager

David Laing

June 2016

Mining operations, engineering, finance

Christian Milau

June 2016

Mining executive, accounting, acquisition, government relations

Northern Dynasty stock, "the riskiest stock on the planet"

Investors were talking up Northern Dynasty (NAK) stock this summer, at a mining investment conference in Vancouver, and on blogs and podcasts. Northern Dynasty flew some investors to the site for a tour, and the stock was later touted as a risky stock with potential for high reward.

The stock peaked at $1.04 in mid-August, and then fell to its current .75. The movement was a boon to “momentum traders,” as detailed by The Street Sweeper, which posted a summary of the risks to investors.










 (Google screen shot 9-15-2016)


Read more:

Motley Fool Online: “Northern Dynasty Minerals' Stock Rallies 17%, but It's Not a Signal to Buy” 

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11 May 2016

Mt. Polley mine update


(Mount Polley tailings dam breach, August, 2014. Photo still above from aerial footage taken by Cariboo Regional District.)

  • Mt. Polley mine is increasing operations; discharging untreated water into Quesnel Lake.
  • Seven reports related to the August 2014 breach have been produced, with another investigation still ongoing.
  • Imperial Metals has not been charged or fined related to the breach.

A study by researchers at the University of Northern British Columbia was published a year ago, revealing a sediment plume, increased copper concentrations, temperature increases and rise in water levels at Quesnel Lake, which was affected by the Mount Polley mine tailings dam breach in August 2014. Researchers said more study would need to be conducted to understand long-term effects on the environment and fish.

Last week mine operators at Mount Polley began increasing production and discharging untreated effluent into Quesnel Lake. The effluent meets B.C. water quality standards, say officials. Locals say that isn't enough – that the water in Quesnel Lake is generally better than the standards, and that discharging effluent is reducing its overall quality.

Since the tailings dam breach, multiple investigations have been conducted, reports have been written and promises to do better have been made. The latest report, an audit of how well regulators protected the environment from mining risks, says that the Ministry of Energy and Mines (MEM) needs to be restructured. The Auditor General, Carol Bellringer, said that MEM role in promoting mining development is "diametrically opposed to compliance and enforcement." Bellringer recommends removing the oversight role from the ministry.

Amid all the reports, mine operator Imperial Metals has not been charged with any non-compliance violations, not can it be fined for the breach by the provincial government, according to MEM. However, one forthcoming report from the British Columbia Conservation Officer Service and the federal government's Department of Fisheries will determine whether there were violations of environmental laws. Investigators are going through documents seized during February 2015 raids of Imperial Metals' offices. Violations could result in charges or fines. That work is expected to be complete this year.

Read more:

Mount Polley Mine releases untreated effluent, increases production (Williams Lake Tribune, May 2, 2016)

Auditor General slams B.C. for failing to adequately monitor mines (CBC news, May 3, 2016)


Mt. Polley Reports

Report Title/Date



Report on Mount Polley Tailings Storage Facility Breach – January 2015


This report by an independent expert review panel analyzes the cause of the August 4, 2014 tailings breach at Mount Polley mine in British Columbia. Experts found that the design was ultimately the cause, and made several recommendations to improve the review process for both existing and future tailings facilities.

“If the inventory of active tailings dams in the province remains unchanged, and performance in the future reflects that in the past, then on average there will be two failures every 10 years and six every 30. In the face of these prospects, the Panel firmly rejects any notion that business as usual can continue.”

The impact of a catastrophic mine tailings impoundment spill into one of North America's largest fjord lakes: Quesnel Lake, British Columbia, Canada – May 2015


Researchers from the University of Northern British Columbia, University of British Columbia and Fisheries and Oceans Canada document observations of changes in Quesnel Lake and Quesnel River for two months following the August 4, 2014 Mount Polley tailings facility breach. 

“The nature of waste materials now present in Quesnel Lake presents a potential hazard to the metal content of aquatic food webs and the growth, survival, and behavior of important fish species.”

Uncertainty Upstream: Potential Threats from Tailings Facility Failures in Northern British Columbia – June 2015


BC First Nations Energy and Mining Council produced a summary of potential threats that may occur in northern British Columbia and Southeast Alaska due to future tailings facility failures. The report includes information on 35 tailings ponds on 48 watersheds, and notes that 3,275km of waterways are immediately downstream from these ponds. Authors call for a higher priority in protecting the environment and ensuring monetary protections are in place for communities in the event they are impacted by tailings failures.

"Nor can we as indigenous peoples afford to watch from the sidelines as others make decisions that will affect our communities, lands, and resources, both today and in the future."

Post-event Environmental Impact Assessment Report: Key Findings - June 2015


Golder Associates was commissioned by the Mount Polley Mining Corporation to produce this report on post-breach effects as part of its Restoration and Remediation Strategy. It is open for public comment until September 2, 2015. It includes information on physical, chemical and biological impacts as well as descriptions of restoration efforts. There is a 73-page report summary and a 5,405-page full report. 

"This work was conducted in accordance with established scientific methods and protocols to meet or exceed regulatory requirements, such that it would be highly unlikely that potential short term impacts would be missed. However, this work is also considered to be preliminary, as the results of some longer term tests were not available at the time of writing this report."

Review of the Mount Polley Mine Tailings Pond Failure and Public Interest Disclosure by Public Bodies – July 2015


Elizabeth Denham, Information and Privacy Commissioner for BC: After complaints that the BC government did not let the public know about information it had regarding problems at Mount Polley before its August 2014 tailings breach, Denham has analyzed and reinterpreted existing public disclosure law. "Urgent circumstances are no longer required to trigger proactive disclosure where there is a clear public interest in disclosure of the information," wrote Denham. Furthermore, she has asked pertinent government agencies to reveal information they have on the Mount Polley breach if it is in the public interest to do so.

“I have been concerned about the proper interpretation of the public interest disclosure requirement for a number of years and chose this investigation as the appropriate opportunity to clarify its interpretation.”

Chief Inspector of Mines Investigation Report on Mount Polley – December 2015


Canada's Chief Inspector of Mines, Al Hoffman, led an investigation into the Mount Polley incident that became the largest, most complex investigation and analysis ever conducted in British Columbia. (100 interviews, more than 100,000 pages of documents reviewed.) The report includes 19 recommendations directed toward mining companies, the mining industry, mining professionals and regulators. After the report was released, Hoffman noted that mine owner Imperial Metals will not be charged in the incident, as there were "no non-compliances we could find." He also said that there would be no fines, since B.C.'s mining laws do not allow for administrative penalties.

"We've learned from this investigation that in the case of Mount Polley, the allowable margin of risk around the design, construction and management of the tailings storage facility was too narrow to allow for an unknown factor, the layer of unstable soils below the dam embankment. We've also learned that weak practices on the mine site increased the risk of dam failure and exacerbated environmental consequences from the beach." - Bill Bennett, Minister of Energy and Mines

An Audit of Compliance and Enforcement of the Mining Sector – May 2016


British Columbia's Auditor General was already conducting an audit of mines in BC when the Mount Polley breach occurred. The audit goal was to determine whether the regulatory compliance and enforcement activities of the Ministry of Energy and Mines (MEM) and the Ministry of Environment (MoE), pertaining to mining, were protecting the province from significant environmental risks. They found "almost every one of our expectations for a robust compliance and enforcement program within the MEM and the MoE were not met." As a result, the Auditor General recommended restructuring the MEM to remove mining compliance and enforcement tasks from its oversight.

"We noted the same issues in the Mount Polley file as we did throughout the audit – that is, too few resources, infrequent inspections, and lack of enforcement. We found major gaps in resources, planning and tools. As a result, monitoring and inspections of mines were inadequate to ensure mine operators complied with requirements. The ministries have not publicly disclosed the limitations with their compliance and enforcement programs, increasing environmental risks, and government’s ability to protect the environment."

The British Columbia Conservation Officer Service (COS) investigation – forthcoming

The COS investigation is based on compliance with Canada's Ministry of Environment legislation. It could result in charges or fines.


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22 April 2016

News roundup: April 21, 2016

Recent news related to Pebble focuses on the deposition of ecologist Phil North, a former EPA employee. After he retired from a long career with EPA, North and his family left Alaska to travel the world. He came back to the U.S. from Bali to be interviewed by Pebble Limited Partnership (PLP) attorneys, and then later by a U.S. congressional committee, both related to his role in developing the EPA’s Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment. Alaskapublic.org, KDLG radio in Dillingham and Alaska Dispatch News all covered the story.

EPA retiree, pulled back into Pebble, says he’s done (Alaskapublic.org, April 15, 2016)

Pebble CEO Collier on importance of North's deposition (KDLG radio, April 1, 2016)

Retired EPA ecologist Phil North speaks out (KDLG, April 4, 2016)

Hard-to-find retired EPA scientist tells where he's been and why he fought Pebble (Alaska Dispatch News, April 4, 2016)


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04 April 2016

Northern Dynasty Board restructures, loses six seasoned Directors

In July 2015, NDM shareholders approved the election of nine Board members, all of whom had served the company between five and 20 years. By February 2016, six of those Board members had resigned.

In February, NDM announced that it had restructured its Board and reduced the number of Directors. Earlier in 2015, NDM acquired Cannon Point Resources and Mission Gold as part of its financing strategy, with Board members from those companies joining the NDM Board. Consequently, more than half of NDM’s current Board of Directors have fewer than six months’ experience with the company.

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01 April 2016

Northern Dynasty ramps up financing efforts to pay for litigation, EPA investigations

Northern Dynasty Minerals (NDM), the Canadian mineral exploration company that owns 100% of the Pebble prospect, has no income and does not expect a positive cash flow until revenues from the Pebble project begin to offset its operating expenses. (If permitting can be achieved, the Pebble project could begin operation by 2024).

To fund its current activities, NDM has pursued a variety of financing options, detailed below. According to company reports, funds raised through these efforts have gone toward:

  • Litigation with EPA
  • Facilitation of third-party investigations of the EPA
  • Maintaining an active corporate presence in Alaska to advance relationships with political and regulatory offices of government, Alaska Native partners and broader stakeholder groups
  • Maintaining the Pebble project, site and claims in good standing
  • Environmental monitoring
  • Maintaining PLP in good standing
  • Finding a potential partner

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30 March 2016

PLP vs. EPA: an update

Pebble Limited Partnership (PLP) continues its legal wrangling with the Environmental Protection Agency, hoping to invalidate the agency’s Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment and block its attempts to use Section 404(c) of the Clean Water Act to finalize protections related to large-scale mining at the Pebble deposit.

Litigation began in 2014, and has temporarily shut down the EPA’s 404(c) process.

Cost of the ongoing litigation is in the millions, with parent company Northern Dynasty Minerals (NDM) continuing to raise funds by acquiring junior mining companies with ready cash and releasing special warrants (to be converted to NDM shares). In a recent filing with Canadian Securities, NDM noted that it will “seek to source significant financing” due to the recent devaluation of the Canadian dollar, the fact the legal expenditures “may exceed current budget expectations,” and that the company need funds for engineering and technical expenses.

In January, NDM CEO Ron Thiessen spoke at an investor’s conference about the outlook for Pebble, saying that PLP has enough funds to continue its litigation against the EPA. He told the group he’s confident that the EPA issue will be resolved by the end of the year, leaving PLP free to initiate federal and state permitting.

PLP hopes to attract another partner, and Thiessen reported that major mining companies and Chinese investors are reviewing terabytes of documents the company has made available in an online data room.

However, EPA is also interested in PLP’s documents, and has requested Federal Judge H. Russel Holland to force the company to turn over those related to its mine plan, financials and more. This suggests that Thiessen’s anticipated resolution with the EPA may not be as speedy as predicted.

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13 January 2016

Inspector General Clears EPA of Bias


Today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Office of Inspector General (OIG) released the results of a 20-month-long investigation into whether the agency had properly conducted a watershed assessment in Bristol Bay.

The Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment was conducted in response to a petition from several Alaska Native tribes, who asked EPA to use the Clean Water Act Section 404(c) to provide protections for the Bristol Bay watershed.

The Inspector General's conclusion – based on records it could obtain – was that there was no evidence of bias or wrong-doing on the EPA's part. However, it did find that a former employee may have misused his position when using his personal email to comment on a draft of the Alaska Native tribes’ 404(c) petition before it was submitted to EPA. The OIG also reported that its review was limited because more than two years’ worth of personal and work emails were not made available from the former employee, who served as the technical lead on the Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment.

"Our report constitutes an independent determination as to whether the EPA adhered to laws, regulations, policies and procedures in developing its assessment of potential mining impacts on ecosystems in Bristol Bay," said Inspector General Arthur A. Elkins.

Pebble Limited Partnership (PLP), which owns the Pebble mining prospect in Bristol Bay, had made repeated requests and complaints to the OIG as part of a multi-pronged offensive aimed at stopping EPA's efforts to issue protections for the area. In May 2014 the OIG announced it would investigate whether the agency followed laws, regulations, policies and procedures when it developed the assessment. Today's report represents the conclusion of that investigation. However, litigation brought by PLP over EPA's conduct is still ongoing.

Read the report.

Read the press release.

Read more - Article from KDLG news, Dillingham 


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05 January 2016

Year in Review 2015


As we look back on Pebble news for 2015, the year was mainly about fundraising and litigation. Pebble Limited Partnership (PLP) owner Northern Dynasty continued to look for investors, along with opportunities for raising money to fund its legal battle against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. PLP pursued three suits against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, two of which continue into 2016. Local groups opposed to the mine raised concerns about potential harm caused by PLP's exploration activities at the deposit site. And in Bristol Bay in 2015, you could get a deal on heavy equipment, as PLP sold off property it's no longer using.

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