Pebble Partnership CEO resigns after secret tapes released
In an unusual twist for the proposed Pebble Mine in Southwest Alaska, Tom Collier, the CEO of Pebble Limited Partnership resigned from his position after covertly recorded comments about elected and regulatory officials in Alaska were released by an environmental activist group.
Northern Dynasty Minerals, the parent company of the Pebble Limited Partnership has named former Pebble Partnership CEO John Shively, a well-known and respected Alaska business and political leader who most recently served as Chairman of the Pebble Partnership’s general partner, Pebble Mines Corp., as interim CEO pending a leadership search.
“Collier’s comments embellished both his and the Pebble Partnership’s relationships with elected officials and federal representatives in Alaska, including Gov. Dunleavy, Senators Murkowski and Sullivan and senior representatives of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). The comments were clearly offensive to these and other political, business and community leaders in the state and for this, Northern Dynasty unreservedly apologizes to all Alaskans,” the company said in a statement.
The video was secretly recorded by an environmental activist group that posed as investors during a series of video conference calls. In the conversations recorded, executives at Northern Dynasty said the mine would operate for decades beyond the 20 years proposed in a federal permit application. Collier was recorded speaking about access to the White House and downplayed the concerns that Alaska Sens. Dan Sullivan and Lisa Murkowski have expressed about the mine.
“The unethical manner in which these tapes were acquired does not excuse the comments that were made, or the crass way they were expressed,” Northern Dynasty CEO Ron Thiessen said in a statement.
“My priority is to advance our current plan through the regulatory process so we can prove to the state’s political leaders, regulatory officials and all Alaskans that we can meet the very high environmental standards expected of us,” acting CEO Shivley said.
Thiessen said the two actors posing as foreign investors on behalf of the Environmental Investigation Agency were clearly trying to entrap the two executives into stating there is a defined plan to expand Pebble beyond the 20-year mine life currently being permitted. In this objective, he said, they clearly failed.
“The mine development proposal currently being evaluated by the USACE, and for which we expect a final Record of Decision this fall, provides for 20 years of mining at an average daily throughput of 180,000 tons, and processing of 1.3 billion tons of mineralized material,” Thiessen said. “What we have said consistently, and is reinforced in the ‘Pebble tapes’ released this week, is the operator of the Pebble Mine may decide at some point in the future to propose additional phases of development, but there exists no formal plan to do so today.”
Thiessen added that any extension or expansion of the Pebble Project proposed in future would have to go through a comprehensive, multi-year federal and state permitting process.