Pebble CEO Tom Collier resigns

Sep 23, 2020

Northern Dynasty says Collier resigned because of his comments about Alaska’s elected leaders and federal regulators in Alaska. The calls were secretly recorded by an environmental group who had hired men to pose as potential investors. 

Abe Williams, left, director of regional affairs for The Pebble Partnership listens as Pebble CEO Tom Collier answers questions during an Institute of Journalism and Natural Resources roundtable in Anchorage, Alaska. September 5, 2019.
Credit Tripp J Crouse/KNBA

Tom Collier has resigned as the CEO of Pebble Limited Partnership.

Pebble’s parent company, Northern Dynasty Minerals, said in a news release that Collier resigned because of his comments about Alaska’s elected leaders and federal regulators. The comments were secretly recorded by an environmental group who had men working undercover, posing as potential investors. 

 

The group, called the Environmental Investigation Agency, released over an hour of tapes Monday. On them, Collier and Northern Dynasty CEO Ron Thiessen spoke of their plans to operate the mine for decades longer than the 20 year plan proposed. They also said Sens. Dan Sullivan and Lisa Murkowski would not do anything to prevent it from going forward, despite their recent statements that the mine should not receive a federal permit.

 

Both senators said they stand by their statements last month that the mine, as proposed, should not get a permit.

 

Alannah Hurley, executive director of United Tribes of Bristol Bay, said Collier’s resignation doesn’t fix anything. 

 "“He should not be allowed to be Pebble’s scapegoat," she said. "His resignation does nothing to address the deep-seated flaws and issues with this rigged permitting process and their political influence on it.”  

Hurley said that in light of what Collier and Thiessen said on the tapes, Alaska’s senators should stop the permitting process from moving forward.

 

“Investigations into what took place during Mr. Collier’s leadership of PLP needs to occur. Our senators need to stand with Alaskans and stand with the people of Bristol Bay and hold this level of corruption accountable,” she said.

 

In the tapes, Thiessen said that they had shared their plans to extend the life of the mine beyond 20 years with federal regulators, and that the Army Corps was taking that into consideration when reviewing Pebble’s current proposal. 

The Army Corps said in a release Tuesday that transcripts of the tapes included “inaccuracies and falsehoods” relating to the permit process and the relationship between Pebble executives and the Army Corps  leadership.

In Northern Dynasty’s statement, Thiessen apologized, saying, “The unethical manner in which these tapes were acquired does not excuse the comments that were made, or the crass way they were expressed. On behalf of the Company and our employees, I offer my unreserved apology to all those who were hurt or offended, and all Alaskans.”

Northern Dynasty has named former Pebble CEO John Shively as interim CEO. 

This is a developing story. 

Contact the author at isabelle@kdlg.org or 907-842-2200.