February 15, 2012, Vancouver, BC -- Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd. ("Northern Dynasty" or the "Company") (TSX: NDM; NYSE Amex: NAK) announces that the Pebble Limited Partnership (the "Pebble Partnership" or "PLP") has released its Environmental Baseline Document (EBD) for the Pebble Project, characterizing existing physical, biological and social conditions in the project area, in anticipation of initiating project permitting.
The Pebble Partnership has spent seven years and US$150 million compiling the EBD, which contains more than 27,000 pages of scientific data and analyses characterizing a broad range of environmental and social conditions in southwest Alaska – including climate, water quality, wetlands, fish and aquatic habitat, wildlife, land and water use, socioeconomics and subsistence. The EBD is based primarily on research collected between 2004 and 2008, although baseline data collecting and monitoring of these environments continues today.
“The release of the EBD comes after one of the most exhaustive environmental study programs in the history of US mineral development,” said Northern Dynasty President & CEO Ron Thiessen. “This massive investment in scientific research not only reflects PLP’s commitment to protect fish, water and other environmental values when developing the Pebble Project; it also represents a significant asset to the Pebble Partnership as it prepares to initiate permitting under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).”
Thiessen said the data and analyses presented in the EBD will provide critical information to its mine planners and engineers as PLP advances a program to design and permit an environmentally sound, socially responsible and financially robust project at Pebble. The Pebble Partnership is currently working to complete a Prefeasibility Study and initiate project permitting for the Pebble Project.
Research for the Pebble EBD was conducted by more than 40 respected independent research firms, utilizing over 100 scientific experts and engineering groups, laboratories and support services. Researchers were selected for their specific areas of expertise and Alaskan experience, with cooperating government agencies participating in several studies. Information for the EBD was gathered through field studies, laboratory tests, review of government records and other third-party sources, and interviews with Alaska residents.
Traditionally, the compilation of environmental studies undertaken in support of mine development in the United States is presented to regulatory agencies as part of a broader permitting package, which includes a Project Description. Given the importance of the Pebble Project, PLP made the decision to share its EBD with project stakeholders upon completion, in advance of project permitting.
Recognizing the vast amount of complex technical and scientific information contained in the EBD, the Pebble Partnership is working with the Keystone Center to undertake an independent science panel process to review the baseline information gathered and to help stakeholders understand the scope of the studies. The Keystone Center will announce its schedule for independent science panel events planned for 2012 in the near future.
“The Pebble EBD is a tremendous body of work for project stakeholders and all Alaskans interested in gaining a greater understanding of the natural, socioeconomic and cultural environment in southwest Alaska,” Thiessen said. “The findings are also critical to our ongoing efforts to define a responsible mine plan at Pebble that provides significant benefits to the region, to the state and the country as a whole, while protecting fish, water and other important natural resources.”
The Pebble Partnership and many of the consultants who contributed to the EBD presented summaries of their work to state and federal agencies this month in Anchorage