Controversial Alaska mining project loses potential investor

Controversial Alaska mining project loses potential investor
© Thinkstock/Istock/Sekarb

The controversial Pebble Mine project in southwest Alaska won’t get an investment from a company that had been negotiating toward a potential 50 percent stake.

Northern Dynasty Minerals, a Canadian mining company that currently owns the Pebble project, said Friday that it was unable to negotiate a deal with First Quantum Minerals.

The development could put the proposed massive gold and copper mine in peril. Northern Dynasty had for years been searching for a new investor after Rio Tinto and Anglo American exited the project.


The mine has faced significant opposition from environmentalists and some Alaskans. They fear that waste from the project would pollute and harm streams that flow into Bristol Bay, which hosts the largest salmon fishery in the world, among other ecologically important features.

Northern Dynasty did not provide any details in its Friday statement about why the talks broke down. The companies announced in December that they had an agreement to work toward a deal.

Under the Obama administration, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed to block Pebble, saying it would be too harmful to the streams.

The Trump administration’s EPA last year said it would withdraw that proposal. But it later reversed course, endorsed the Obama administration’s findings and kept the proposal in place.

Pebble has been aggressively lobbying the federal government to get the project’s permits approved.

Opponents of the project cheered the news of the financing falling through.

“The Pebble Mine is a risky venture that would devastate the world’s largest sockeye salmon fishery. It also endangers thousands of local jobs, wildlife, and more than a dozen Alaska native tribes,” Carter Roberts, president of the World Wildlife Fund, said in a statement.

“In addition to the environmental concerns, the Pebble Mine also poses risks to any company’s reputation, and by extension its returns. Given these many concerns, it’s no surprise that the financing deal fell apart.”