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US Supreme Court dismisses Alaska’s bid to keep Pebble project alive

The US Supreme Court on Monday dismissed Alaska’s bid to keep the Pebble mine project alive after it was essentially shot down by the Environmental Protection Agency a year ago.

The proposed mine in the Bristol Bay area, which would have become the largest copper, gold and molybdenum extraction site in North America, has met with nearly two decades of resistance for its potential impact on nature and the communities that depend on them.

In January 2023, the EPA sided with the opposition groups by blocking Northern Dynasty Minerals (TSX: NDM; NYSE: NAK), the project owner, from storing mine waste in the Bristol Bay watershed, home to the world’s largest sockeye salmon fisheries.

Alaskan lawmakers in support of the project filed in July a motion asking the Supreme Court to overturn the EPA decision, arguing that the nation’s highest court had the authority to hear their case before lower courts reviewed the matter.

In a more typical legal process, the state must start with a lower court and then appeal any unfavorable decisions with the Supreme Court.

“Alaska tried to persuade the court that this is the rare kind of dispute that the justices should hear as a trial court, without having it go through lower courts first,” Steve Vladeck, Supreme Court analyst and professor at the University of Texas School of Law, told CNN.

“Although there’s no explanation accompanying today’s denial, it stands to reason that a majority of the justices disagreed and were willing to let the case go through ordinary litigation in the lower courts first,” he said in the CNN interview.

Northern Dynasty has also not given up and has considered legal options to challenge the EPA. “The proposed mine for the Pebble project would provide good-paying, year-round employment for thousands of Alaskans, something desperately needed in southwest Alaska,” the company has said.

“While it is a disappointing decision, it is important to note that this is not a comment on the arguments put forward by the state. We have long stated our belief that the EPA has acted outside of its regulatory authority and that remains our position today,” Northern Dynasty said in a statement on Monday.

Over a 20-year mine life, the Pebble mine is expected to churn out 6.4 billion lb. of copper; 7.4 million oz. of gold, 300 million lb. of molybdenum; 37 million oz. of silver and 200,000 kg of rhenium. It has a post-tax net present value (NPV) of more than $2 billion (at 7% discount rate) with an internal rate of return (IRR) of roughly 15%.

Northern Dynasty’s stock plunged 26.9% by 1:45 p.m. ET on the latest development. The Vancouver-based miner has a market capitalization of C$204.9 million ($153 million).

Source: MINING.COM – Read More