Alaska voters validate State’s regulatory framework for mining

Northern Dynasty Minerals explains that last week, Alaskans issued a clear vote of confidence in the state’s water quality standards, its protections for salmon and human health, and its overall regulatory framework for hard rock mining. On August 26, Alaska voters went to the polls for the state’s primary election and cast their ballots on Ballot Measure 4, an initiative that called into question existing water quality standards and could have introduced new, undefined regulations for mining. By a substantial 57:43 majority, Alaskans defeated Ballot Measure 4 and reinforced their support for the state’s existing regulatory framework.

“The people of Alaska clearly believe that the state and federal permitting process, and existing environmental standards for water quality and fish protection, are the appropriate measures by which the Pebble Project and other hard rock mines in the state should be judged,” said Ronald Thiessen, President and CEO of Northern Dynasty Minerals. “We’re encouraged by the outcome and support the regulatory process in Alaska. Alaskans want Pebble to be judged on the facts, based on empirical science and the rigorous environmental standards and permitting requirements of the US and the State of Alaska. We agree, and are committed to developing an environmentally sound and socially responsible project that is acceptable to federal and state regulators and the citizens of the state.”

Pebble Limited Partnership, the Alaska-based operation owned 50% by each of Northern Dynasty and a US subsidiary of Anglo American, is currently advancing project design and engineering programs, and is expected to finalise a prefeasibility study for the Pebble project in the second half of 2009 after receiving stakeholder input.

Once the study is complete, the Partnership will apply for the requisite state and federal permits for the project. The permitting process will be guided by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), involve at least 11 state and federal regulatory agencies, and provide multiple and ongoing opportunities for public input.