Northern Dynasty is focused on designing, permitting, building and operating the Pebble Project. The Company initiated permitting by the end of 2017, with a project that is smaller than previously contemplated.
Project advances include:
- delineation of an estimated mineral resource totalling 6.5 billion tonnes in measured and indicated and 4.5 billion tonnes in inferred categories;
- more than 10 years and over US$150 million spent on environmental and socioeconomic studies to support project design and permitting;
- technical and engineering studies for mine site facilities and project infrastructure;
- investment in workforce and business development, stakeholder consultation and community programs;
- entry into federal permitting through submission of an application for a 404 wetlands permit under the Clean Water Act, including a Project Description and the Environmental Baseline Document, which triggered an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) process under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
The Pebble Project must satisfy permitting requirements at three levels: federal, state and local (borough). The process will involve some 11 regulatory agencies, 60+ categories of permits and significant ongoing opportunities for public involvement. This process is being led by the US Army Corps of Engineers (the “Corps of Engineers”).
The first step in the permitting process is for the 404 wetlands permit, which triggered an EIS process. The EIS was prepared by a third-party contractor under the direction of the Corps of Engineers. Pebble submitted its permit documentation in late December 2017.
In January 2018, the US Army Corps of Engineers gave notice that the Project Description was deemed complete.
The Pebble EIS determines whether sufficient evaluation of the project's environmental effects and development alternatives has been undertaken. It also provides the basis for federal, state and local government agencies to make individual permitting decisions.
The Alaska Department of Natural Resources Large Mine Permitting Team is responsible for coordinating state permitting activities for large mine projects within the state.
To satisfy permitting requirements under NEPA and other regulatory statutes, the Pebble Partnership provided:
- a comprehensive project design and operating plan for mine-site and infrastructure facilities;
- documentation of development alternatives investigated;
- mitigation and compensation strategies; and
- environmental monitoring, reclamation and closure plans.
The Corps of Engineers published a final EIS in July 2020, finding that the proposed mine 'would not have measureable effects on fish populations or fisheries' in southwest Alaska.
The Corps of Engineers published a ROD on November 25, 2020 denying Pebble a key permit under the Clean Water Act on the grounds that its 'compensatory mitigation plan' is non-compliant and the project is not in the 'public interest'. An administrative appeal is underway. A copy of the appeal document is available on the website Request for Appeal (RFA).
Steps in the permitting process are shown in the accompanying chart.
(1) The Pebble Partnership submitted its Request for Appeal on January 19, 2021.