Northern Dynasty submits Compensatory Mitigation Plan for Pebble Project
Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd. has submitted a Compensatory Mitigation Plan (CMP)for the Pebble Project in Southwest Alaska to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) ahead of the 90-day deadline that expires on Nov. 18, 2020.
Northern Dynasty and its subsidiary, the Pebble Partnership, said it believes the submitted CMP fully satisfies mitigation requirements for the proposed copper-gold-molybdenum-silver-rhenium mine in southwest Alaska.
The Pebble Project would be the largest mine in North America, with an estimated 6.5 billion tonnes of measured and indicated resources containing 57 billion lb copper, 71 million oz gold, 3.4 billion lb molybdenum and 345 million oz silver. However, the project has been mired in controversy, including a particularly tumultuous year in 2020 that saw the resignation of Pebble Limited Partnership CEO Tom Collier after the release of secretly recorded conversations in which Collier spoke about connections with prominent political figures.
The Pebble Partnership submitted a smaller mine plan that includes lined tailings.
Following publication of a positive Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) in July 2020, the USACE published its mitigation requirements for Pebble on Aug. 20, 2020 and provided the Pebble Partnership with 90 days to submit a CMP to address them. Filing an approved CMP for the project is a necessary prerequisite to receiving a federal Record of Decision (ROD).
“The ‘in-kind’ and ‘in-watershed’ requirement for mitigation the USACE established for Pebble clearly sets a high bar for offsetting project effects on wetlands and other aquatic features, but it’s a challenge we have embraced and believe we can achieve,” Ron Thiessen, Northern Dynasty President & CEO said in a statement. “Based on the findings of the Final EIS, we already know Pebble can operate safely and reliably, while fully protecting the water, fish and wildlife resources of Bristol Bay. Meeting the USACE’s challenging mitigation requirements provides even greater evidence that Pebble can and will co-exist with commercial, subsistence and sport fisheries in southwest Alaska.”
In addition to meeting the rigorous environmental standards enforced in the Clean Water Act and other U.S. federal legislation, Thiessen said the Final EIS for Pebble indicates the project will make important, positive socioeconomic contributions to the region, the state and the nation.
“Pebble will also deliver the critical and strategic minerals the United States requires for its economic and military security,” he said, “while helping facilitate the transition to a ‘lower carbon future.’”
Thiessen said Pebble Partnership technical/permitting staff and expert, third-party consultants in Alaska have prepared a high-quality mitigation plan to fully satisfy the lead federal agencies’ requirements–including undertaking extensive field investigations this summer and fall.
He cautioned Pebble won’t be releasing any details about the CMP until it is accepted by the USACE and posted to its website. “We have an experienced team in Alaska that has identified both the means and mechanism to meet the ‘in-kind’ and ‘in watershed’ mitigation requirements, and complete a CMP that we believe will be acceptable to the USACE in form and content,” he said. “Until this work is completed to the Corps’ full satisfaction, we won’t be discussing the details of our plan.”
There is no statutory timeline for the USACE’s review of the Pebble CMP. Northern Dynasty’s current expectation is that its sufficiency will be confirmed prior to or concurrent with issuance of a final Record of Decision