A draft copy of the final environmental impact statement (EIS) for the contentious Pebble project in Alaska is now being circulated among federal, state and local agencies involved in permitting.
The developer of the project, Northern Dynasty Minerals (TSX:NDM,NYSEAMERICAN:NAK), said in a release reacting to the news that the EIS “portrays a mine development project that will co-exist with the fisheries and water resources of Bristol Bay, while making a substantial positive contribution to the socioeconomic Health and well-being of local communities.”
Over the last few years, Pebble, a copper-gold asset, has been mired in controversy over environmental concerns, an attempted veto by the Obama-era Environmental Protection Agency and varying degrees of local opposition.
The draft EIS is being prepared by the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), and with it on the way, Tom Collier, who is the CEO of the Pebble Partnership, a wholly owned subsidiary of Northern Dynasty tasked with taking the project to permitting, said that “information in the near-final report was positive and demonstrates the project can be done without harming the Bristol Bay fishery and would be beneficial to communities closest to the project.”
Collier added that Northern Dynasty has seen a leaked copy of the executive summary of the report.
“We are encouraged by the information in this leaked copy of the executive summary and believe the final EIS will support issuing a permit for the construction of a mine at Pebble and that it can be done responsibly,” he said.
According to the company, the executive summary concludes that there would be no measurable change in the number of returning salmon in Bristol Bay should Pebble go ahead. It also states that the removal of habitat for the project’s construction and the resulting impacts on fish would fall within the range of natural variability, and that fish harvest levels would not be affected.
Additionally, the company said the summary concludes that the economic benefits for low-income communities in the area would last the life of the project (currently 20 years), and the project would have no effect on community groundwater.
“Since the release of the Draft EIS for the project and subsequent public comments received, our team has been working to provide the USACE with the environmental and engineering information required to allow them to fully address all the technical issues that were raised,” said Collier.
The Pebble project, should it go ahead, has an estimated mine life of 20 years with annual metal production set at 613,000 metric tons of copper-gold concentrate for 318 million pounds of copper, 362,000 ounces of gold and 1.6 million ounces of silver.
On the TSX on Wednesday, Northern Dynasty was trading at C$0.65, up by 6.56 percent.
According to USACE, the final EIS and record of decision for the Pebble project is expected to be completed by mid-2020.
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Securities Disclosure: I, Scott Tibballs, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.