Dealing another major setback to Northern Dynasty Minerals’ plans to develop the world’s largest known undeveloped copper ore deposit, multinational mining giant Rio Tinto, the project’s sole remaining major mining company backer, announced it is divesting its 19.1 percent equity stake in the junior Canadian mining company.
Rio Tinto is taking an extraordinary step in the way of divestment: Rather than trying to find a buyer for its Northern Dynasty shares, management announced it is gifting them to two local nonprofit organizations, dividing them equally between the Alaska Community Foundation and the Bristol Bay Native Corp. Education Foundation.
Situated on state land in southwest Alaska at the headwaters of the Bristol Bay watershed, Northern Dynasty aims to build North America’s largest open-pit copper mine at the Pebble Mine site. The Bristol Bay area is also home to one of the world’s richest remaining wild salmon habitat and Alaska’s richest fisheries, however.
IHS Global Insight projects the extraction and processing of copper, gold and molybdenum ore from the Pebble Mine site will create 15,000 jobs and provide a more than $2.5-billion boost to U.S. GDP over at least a 20-year period. Set on the scales against the project is the the value of the Bristol Bay fishery and watershed, which opponents contend would be threatened and significantly degraded, if not destroyed, were the Pebble Mine project to be developed — taking local communities and ways of life along with it.Click to continue reading »