Latest potential investor pulls out of Pebble

PLP calls it “business as usual,” while mine opponents applaud exit of First Quantum Minerals

Yet another potential major investor in a large mineral mine in the Bristol Bay watershed is now out of the picture, just as backers of the project are pushing forward to get federal permits needed to proceed.

Northern Dynasty Minerals Lt., in Vancouver, British Columbia, said on May 25 that Northern Dynasty, a subsidiary of the diversified global mining group Hunter Dickinson Inc., has terminated a framework agreement with First Quantum Minerals Ltd.

HDI officials said they had no further comment at this time, but Tom Collier, chief executive officer of the PLP, said in a statement from Anchorage that for him the day “is business as usual.” Collier said he felt that the PLP would secure the necessary funding to continue the permitting and review process for Pebble under the National Environmental Policy Act and get an EIS.

The announcement same as harvesters, processors and others engaged in the famed Bristol Bay salmon fishery were preparing for the harvest of millions of sockeye and other salmon.

Word that mine proponents had lost another potential backer prompted a number of responses from those opposed to the mine, including seasoned Bristol Bay salmon harvesters, United Tribes of Bristol Bay and environmental entities.

Meanwhile the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Anchorage was moving forward in efforts with a third party, AECOM, to produce a draft environmental impact statement for the project.  AECOM, a fully integrated global infrastructure firm with offices in Alaska, is being guided by the corps and paid by the Pebble Limited Partnership, a subsidiary of Northern Dynasty Minerals, to produce the draft EIS.  Even after that effort got underway, the PLP submitted changes to the project plan, but according to the corps of engineers they were sticking to the schedule as proposed at this time.


“This news could not have come at a more opportune time, said Jason Metrokin, president and chief executive officer of Bristol Bay Native Corp.  “The Alaska Department of Fish and Game is again forecasting strong salmon runs for Bristol Bay this year. It is great that the people of Bristol Bay can prepare for another summer of subsistence and commercial fishing, confident about the future of the region’s fisheries and fishing-based economy.”

“This is the fourth major company that’s pulled out of Pebble because of the massive environmental risks, lack of economic feasibility and widespread local opposition,” said Robin Samuelsen, of Dillingham, a lifelong Bristol Bay harvester. Samuelsen urged Gov. Bill Walker to cancel the mineral leases and reclassify the land to ensure protection “for our jobs and way of life in the Bristol Bay region where opposition to Pebble mine is unwavering.”

“For too long now we have set out each year with fear and worry about the possibility of Pebble moving forward and threatening our jobs and businesses,” said Mark Niver of Commercial Fishermen for Bristol Bay. Niver, a commercial fisherman who also works in the North Slope oil industry, said the governor should call for a moratorium on mineral exploration in the watershed and just let people go fishing. We need a year where we don’t have this sword hanging over our head,” he said.

He also urged Sen, Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska to call on the Corps of Engineers “to reject and tear up Pebble’s incomplete permit application and halt the EIS process. The permit was already full of holes and now the company lacks a backer,” he said.

First Quantum Minerals won praise from Friends of the Earth for distancing itself from the project.

By pulling out of the agreement to finance the mine, First Quantum Minerals “finally listened to the overwhelming opposition from the people of Bristol Bay and throughout Alaska,” said Verner Wilson, senior oceans campaigner at Friends of the Earth and a member of the Curyung Tribe in Bristol Bay.

“Four major mining companies, including Anglo-American, Rio Tinto, Mitsubishi, and now First Quantum Minerals, have rejected financing for the project. It’s time for the Trump Administration to step up and also reject Pebble mine, which is too risky for Bristol Bay’s world-class fisheries and the many communities who depend on the rich natural resources of the region,” he said.

“Our voices are being heard everywhere from our villages to the boardroom at First Quantum,” said Robert Heyano, of Dillingham, board president of United Tribes of Bristol Bay. Quyana (thank you) to First Quantum for listening to reason and divesting from this toxic project. No project is worth more than a culture or a way of life.”