|June 28, 2012|
Northern Dynasty calls on EPA to substantially expand and extend role of independent experts assembled to review 'Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment'
June 28, 2012, Vancouver, BC -- Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd. ("Northern Dynasty" or the "Company") (TSX: NDM; NYSE MKT: NAK) has responded to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) call for public comment on the draft charge it has provided to peer reviewers assembled to assess the quality and sufficiency of scientific information presented in the federal agency's recently published draft Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment (BBWA) report -- entitled An Assessment of Potential Mining Impacts on Salmon Ecosystems of Bristol Bay, Alaska.
In its June 26, 2012 submission, Northern Dynasty said the EPA's draft charge to peer reviewers is artificially narrow and will prohibit the 12 independent experts from fully assessing whether the scope, methodology, underlying assumptions, data sources and analysis presented in the draft report are adequate to achieve the BBWA's stated purpose. The draft charge even prohibits peer reviewers from commenting on certain findings in the report by providing a series of restrictive questions that EPA asserts are "designed to focus reviewers on specific aspects of the report."
"While officials from the EPA Region 10 office in Seattle have regularly claimed that the Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment is not 'about the Pebble Project', any serious or casual reader of the report or the voluminous media coverage it has generated will know this is patently untrue," said Northern Dynasty President & CEO Ron Thiessen. "We should all be very clear -- this report is seeking to pass judgment on the development potential of America's single greatest resource of copper, gold and molybdenum before any mine plan has been prepared or any permit application filed.
"It is Northern Dynasty's view that EPA Region 10's draft BBWA is a fundamentally flawed document that is premature, rushed, omits key sources of scientific data, incorporates out of date and inapplicable information, and distorts other data to arrive at conclusions that are simply not supported in science. When you consider the global significance of the mineral resource at question here, and its strategic and economic value to the nation and the State of Alaska, it is absolutely unconscionable that EPA would continue to rush this process to meet a politically inspired deadline, and to restrict the ability of independent expert scientists to conduct a full and thorough review."
Thiessen called on EPA Region 10 to substantially expand the mandate provided to the 12 peer reviewers assembled to assess the draft Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment report published May 18, 2012, and to extend the timeframe provided for their work. He noted that EPA Region 10 has designed the BBWA process so that the public comment and peer review periods overlap, such that peer reviewers are unlikely to have a full opportunity to review and consider concerns raised by Pebble Project proponents, Alaska Native groups, the State of Alaska or others.
"Perhaps the most troubling aspect of EPA Region 10's actions with regard to the Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment is its insistence that the process must be complete before Americans go to the polls in November," Thiessen said. "What is the rationale for that deadline? What is the rush? Why is this assessment being conducted before a detailed mine proposal has been presented? Why have critical data sources been overlooked? Why has the EPA not conducted any field investigations to inform its science? Why is the peer review process overlapping public review?
"Our concern is that the premature, rushed and under-informed nature of this investigation will lead to a scientifically indefensible outcome. Pebble is simply too important a resource to be subject to the whims of political rather than objective, science-based decision-making."
Concerns about EPA Region 10's proposed charge to peer reviewers of the draft Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment report presented in Northern Dynasty's submission include:
"EPA Region 10 has placed unacceptably narrow boundaries on the questions that peer reviewers can ask and the investigations they can undertake," Thiessen said. "These experts are also constrained by time and the limitation of conducting their review prior to receiving public comment on the draft BBWA report."
Thiessen said the fisheries and mineral resources of southwest Alaska are too important for the state and the nation to allow a premature, rushed and flawed scientific study to determine their future: "We encourage the EPA to slow this process down to allow good scientific practices to rule the day -- including provision for a robust peer review process. Alternatively, the Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment should be abandoned, and the Pebble Project should, when ready, proceed to be comprehensively reviewed by federal and state regulatory agencies under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), like every other significant resource development project in the country."
About the Pebble Project
The Pebble Project is an initiative of PLP 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 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 Minerals Ltd.
Northern Dynasty is a mineral exploration and development company based in Vancouver, Canada, which holds indirect interests in 650 sq. 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 Project. The Pebble Project is an advanced-stage initiative to develop one of the world's most important mineral resources.
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
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