Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd. considers the April 25, 2023, decision by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Pacific Ocean Division to remand the permit decision back to the Corps’ Alaska District a strong win for the Pebble Project.

“We have been saying that the record of decision (ROD) process was not fairly conducted since 2020 and are pleased to see that the Review Officer has raised similar concerns on many substantive issues,” said Ron Thiessen, president and CEO of Northern Dynasty. “The two major areas for the negative ROD decision, namely the deemed non-compliance of our comprehensive mitigation plan (CMP) and the Public Interest Review (PIR), were highlighted by the Review Officer as areas where the District did not carry out the proper process in arriving at its decision. This remand decision is a ‘strong win’ for the project because it brings these issues to light and directs the District to address them, potentially setting the stage for a much different outcome.”

The Review Officer has clearly demonstrated that the CMP process was flawed, Thiessen explained. “The administrative record does not show that we were given sufficient instruction, feedback or time to remedy the plan in order to have a chance of success,” Thiessen said. “If we are given the opportunity to provide a new CMP that meets the requirements, it could remove the ‘significant degradation’ finding which, in turn, could have a cascading effect on the PIR and compliance with the Clean Water Act.”

Additionally, as part of the PIR analysis, Thiessen said the Review Officer pointed out that the District was wrong to consider potential catastrophic impacts of a tailings storage facility failure as a reason for its permit denial, because the Final Environmental Impact Study (FEIS) clearly found that the Pebble tailings storage facility design did NOT present any reasonably foreseeable failure risks.

“It is interesting to note the EPA in its Final Determination specifically refers to the risk of tailings failure to justify its decision, despite the FEIS saying that this is not reasonably foreseeable,” Thiessen said. “This contradiction will need to be explained.”

As a result of the remand decision, and in light of the EPA’s Final Determination, the District has been instructed to review the appeal decision and to notify the parties how it plans to proceed in the next 45 days.

Based in Vancouver, Canada, Northern Dynasty’s principal asset is the Pebble Project, which is a contiguous block of 1,840 mineral claims in southwest Alaska, including the Pebble deposit, located 200 miles from Anchorage and 125 miles from Bristol Bay.