Alaska mine developer’s shares fall 20 percent; partner pressured – by Nicole Mordant (Reuters U.S. – January 29, 2018)

VANCOUVER (Reuters) – Shares of mine developer Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd fell more than 20 percent on Monday, the first trading day after a U.S. regulator’s surprise move to keep restrictions on the company’s big copper and gold mine project in Alaska.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reversed itself on Friday by maintaining restrictions on the proposed Pebble copper and gold mine in southwest Alaska’s Bristol Bay region, saying it needed more time to assess the project’s impact on the environment and area fisheries.

Pebble holds one of the world’s largest undeveloped copper and gold deposits. Its development, near one of the biggest sockeye salmon fisheries on earth, has been fiercely opposed by environmentalists, native groups and fisherman for years.

Also on Monday, pressure mounted on First Quantum Minerals, a potential partner on Pebble, to cut its ties with the project. First Quantum shares closed 2.5 percent lower at C$18.40 in Toronto trading.

Both Northern Dynasty and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said on Friday the move would not derail the Pebble mine’s permit application process. But it was the first sign the project’s path may not be as smooth under the mining-friendly Trump administration as some analysts and the company had predicted.

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