Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd., owners of the proposed Pebble Project in Alaska, reported that Rio Tinto intends to divest of its 19.1 percent shareholdings in Northern Dynasty Minerals.
Rio Tinto will gift its shares to two Alaskan charitable foundations.
In September, London-based Anglo American withdrew from the Pebble Partnership, taking a $300 million hit for doing so. In December, following Anglo American’s decision and facing pressure from some shareholders to divest, Rio Tinto said it would reevaluate its investment.
Then in February, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced it would temporarily block permitting of the mine pending a special review under a rarely-used section of the Clean Water Act. Under those provisions, the EPA has the power to halt development permanently.
Northern Dynasty shares held by Rio Tinto will be divided equally between the Alaska Community Foundation to fund state-wide educational and vocational training and the Bristol Bay Native Corporation Education Foundation, which supports educational and cultural programs in southwest Alaska. The Alaska Community Foundation,helped facilitate the Pebble Partnerships five-year, $5 million investment in Bristol Bay communities via the Pebble Fund.
“We are pleased that Rio Tinto’s interest in Northern Dynasty will provide meaningful, long-term economic contributions to charitable organizations in Alaska that are dedicated to providing educational opportunities for young people, and to preserving culture and traditional ways of life,” said Northern Dynasty President & CEO Ron Thiessen. “We look forward to meeting with the leadership of the Alaska Community Foundation and Bristol Bay Native Corp. Education Foundation in the days ahead to better understand their long-term goals and aspirations, and how their ownership interest in Northern Dynasty and the Pebble Project can make the greatest possible contribution to the people and communities they serve.”
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 owner, but the people, culture and industries of the State of Alaska, as well as suppliers, consultants and industries in the Lower 48 United States of America.
A 2013 study authored by IHS Global Insight, entitled The Economic and Employment Contributions of a Conceptual Pebble Mine to the Alaska and United States Economies found the Pebble Project has the potential to support 15,000 American jobs and contribute more than
$2.5 billion annually to US GDP over decades of production. The IHS Global Insight study is available at www.northerndynasty.com
The Pebble 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.