|May 22, 2012|
Northern Dynasty comments on the EPA's draft Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment report
|May 22, 2012, Vancouver, BC - Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd. ("Northern Dynasty" or the "Company") (TSX: NDM; NYSE Amex: NAK) comments on the draft Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment report released by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on May 18, 2012, calling the initiative to study potential effects of mineral development in a vast region of southwest Alaska 'rushed and inadequate.'|
"As Northern Dynasty and subsequently as part of the Pebble Partnership, we have invested nearly 10 years and hundreds of millions of dollars studying the natural and human environment surrounding the Pebble Project, and methodically advancing a development strategy that will allow us to develop the globally significant resources of copper, gold and molybdenum there while protecting fisheries, water quality and traditional ways of life," said Northern Dynasty President & CEO Ron Thiessen,
"So to suggest that the EPA over a course of a single year can meaningfully study a region of some 20,000 square miles and assess the effects of a project for which a final design is not yet complete, and for which key environmental mitigation strategies are yet being developed, is pure folly. We have every expectation that the deep flaws in the draft Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment report will be exposed during the scientific peer review and public comment processes to come over the next several months."
Thiessen referred to the public statement on the EPA's draft Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment report released by the Pebble Limited Partnership (the "Pebble Partnership" or "PLP") Chief Executive Officer John Shively last week:
Pebble CEO Calls EPA Process Rushed and Inadequate
"As long-time proponents of responsible resource development in Alaska, we have significant concerns regarding the EPA's approach to the Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment. We believe that the EPA has rushed its assessment process, and that this is especially problematic in light of the large size of the study area. We have taken several years and expended considerable resources to study the ecosystem in a small area around the Pebble deposit, while the EPA has, in only one year and with limited resources, completed a draft assessment in relation to an area of approximately 20,000 square miles. We believe that this explains why the EPA's work has not yet approached the level of rigor and completeness required for a scientific assessment.
"Furthermore, we are concerned that the EPA may use this rushed process as the basis for an unprecedented regulatory action against the Pebble Project. We believe it would be unprecedented and entirely inappropriate for the EPA to take steps to stop our project before it has been fully designed, before we have presented an environmental mitigation strategy designed to protect the fish and water resources of the area, before we have completed an economic benefits study and before we have submitted a permit application and started the rigorous permitting process. Until we complete our work and submit an application under NEPA, the EPA's work as it relates to our project is based entirely on speculation.
"The Pebble deposit is located on State of Alaska lands that are open to mineral exploration and development. As such, the State has expressed strong objection about the entire process the EPA is undertaking in this area. At Statehood, the federal government granted Alaska access to lands in order to develop an economy for the new state. Federal intrusions such as those facilitated by the EPA's watershed assessment initiative clearly strike at the heart of the agreement between the state and the federal government, and could have a chilling effect on future resource development investments in Alaska.
"Further, this entire process is particularly disappointing because it seems to directly conflict with the stated goals of President Obama, who has said that U.S. government agencies need to simplify and streamline permitting and regulatory processes to help the economy and create jobs. This is an example of the Environmental Protection Agency doing exactly the opposite by adding new hurdles to the rigorous and established regulatory process.
"It is worth noting that PLP has spent several years and expended significant resources studying a substantially smaller land area surrounding Pebble, while the EPA's limited time frame allocated to studying natural resources in this vast area comes nowhere near providing the science needed to adequately conduct their assessment. We certainly don't question the appropriate statutory role of the EPA in evaluating projects like the Pebble Project. In fact, we voluntarily provided over 20,000 pages of detailed environmental studies to the EPA to assist their understanding of this complex ecosystem and we are convinced the agency did not utilize the information in a meaningful way due to the artificial short time frame they have used to reach a conclusion. We do take strong exception to this misguided effort that steps outside of the well‐established regulatory process to rush through this watershed assessment to potentially reach pre‐ordained conclusions.
"Additionally, the draft watershed assessment is fundamentally flawed for the following reasons:
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. The project is located 200 miles southwest of Anchorage on state land designated through two public land use planning exercises for mineral exploration and development. It is situated 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.
The Pebble Project consists of the Pebble deposit, surrounding mineral claims and a stream of financing being provided by Northern Dynasty's project partner Anglo American US (Pebble) LLC. The Pebble Partnership was established in July 2007 as a 50:50 partnership between a wholly-owned affiliate of Northern Dynasty and a wholly-owned subsidiary of Anglo American plc. Both Northern Dynasty and Anglo American have equal ownership and direction of the Pebble Partnership.
Under the terms of the Pebble Limited Partnership Agreement, Anglo American is required to elect to commit $1.5 billion in staged investments in order to retain its 50% interest in the Pebble Project. Funds provided by Anglo American are currently being invested in comprehensive exploration, engineering, environmental and socioeconomic programs toward the future development of the Pebble Project.
About Northern Dynasty
Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd. is a mineral exploration and development company based in Vancouver, Canada, which holds indirect interests in 650 square miles of mineral claims in southwest Alaska, USA. Northern Dynasty's principal asset is a 50% interest in the Pebble Partnership, owner of the Pebble Copper-Gold-Molybdenum Project. The Pebble Project is an advanced-stage initiative to develop one of the most important mineral resources in the world.
For further details on Northern Dynasty please visit the Company's website at www.northerndynasty.com or contact Investor services at (604) 684-6365 or within North America at 1-800-667-2114. Review Canadian public filings at www.sedar.com and US public filings at www.sec.gov.
Ronald W. Thiessen
President & CEO
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