When the president of the sole remaining partner in the beleaguered Pebble Limited Partnership launched into a sales pitch on Thursday for the huge and controversial copper mine planned for southwestern Alaska’s Bristol Bay region, he acknowledged the “elephant in the room.”
Everyone wants to know what will happen to the project now that mining giant Anglo American has dropped out of the partnership, said Ron Thiessen, president and chief executive of Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd., the Vancouver-based junior company still pushing the Pebble Mine.
“It’s the day after Anglo. What’s next?” Thiessen, a keynote speaker at the Resource Development Council’s annual conference in Anchorage, said in his speech.
Northern Dynasty will keep pushing for the mine, he assured the audience. “We have the resources and the expertise and the will to advance Pebble or without a partner and that is what we intend and will do,” he said.
Nonetheless, Thiessen said in the same speech, Northern Dynasty — and the state of Alaska — “needs another major partner” to come to invest in Pebble. His company’s top priority in the next few months will be to attract another big company to make the needed investments, he said.
“Northern Dynasty is confident that we can secure another major investor to construct and operate a world-class mine at Pebble,” Thiessen said.
Not next, Thiessen said, is any filing of a permit application or formal mine plan. That will have to wait until a new partner joins the venture, he said.
Earlier this year, the Anglo-Northern Dynasty-owned Pebble partnership had said it would submit permit applications by the end of 2013 — an event, Pebble supporters said, that would present a concrete mining plan for skeptics to analyze and judge.
Now, with Anglo out, the environmental and design work needed for a permit application won’t be completed until early 2014, Thiessen said.
But there is no target date for an application, he said. Applying for a permit will have to wait until a new partner joins the venture, he said in an interview after the speech.
Pebble’s developers have been criticized for failing to follow through on announced intentions to submit permit applications and formal documentations of the mine plans.
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