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Northern Dynasty puts $13 million towards Pebble 2015 battles

Jason Sear

With money raised from sale of shares, sole owner of Pebble project seeks new partner and vows continued legal challenge of EPA actions.

DILLINGHAM: On Tuesday, Northern Dynasty Minerals announced it had completed the sale of private shares to investors to raise roughly $13,000,000 to fund operations for Northern Dynasty and the Pebble project for 2015.

The company's program and scheduled activities this year are not fundamentally different from 2014, said vice president of of public affairs Sean Magee.

"Our main focuses are two," Magee said Wednesday. "To bring in a new major funding partner for the Pebble Partnership to move the project forward into permitting. And secondly to address the issues arising from the EPA, their Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment, and 404c regulatory process."

Federal Judge H. Russel Holland granted Pebble's request for a temporary injunction against EPA in November, essentially barring the agency from taking further steps in it's 404c process until Pebble has time to present more of its case. The ruling came in one of a series of lawsuits brought by Pebble against EPA.

Magee said that Pebble will continue its fight against EPA in federal court, which could become a costly and protracted. He also cited an EPA Inspector General investigation launched last May, though it was unclear what role Pebble has in that process. According to an agency memo, the IG investigation set out to "determine whether the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) adhered to laws, regulations, policies and procedures in developing its assessment of potential mining impacts on ecosystems in Bristol Bay, Alaska."

Northern Dynasty is continuing to search for new partners to replace Anglo American, which pulled out of the project in August 2013. Magee says the company has prepared an exhaustive set of data on the project that has been collected over the "past decade" for potential partners to review.

Reviewing that data, said Magee, is a "timely process," adding that it's confidential, too.

"All of the companies that would take an interest in moving forward as a partner in Pebble have got to work through all of that information. It's a process we began last year, it's a vital process today, and not something we can speak about publicly."

With the start of a work season just a few months away, Northern Dynasty is planning another scaled-down season, according to Magee. He said there will likely be a small crew on the Pebble site for care and maintenance activities, and other staff will focus on an ongoing environmental baseline study.