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New twist in long-running Bristol Bay battle


The battle of Bristol Bay has taken another turn following a pledged investment of $60m into the company behind the proposed Pebble Mine project in Alaska.

Pebble owner, Northern Dynasty Materials, hopes the funding will help it reverse the current federal rulings against the mine.

Mike Westerlund, VP of Investor Relations for Northern Dynasty, said the investor, a private asset management company, had not been named to avoid it being targeted by opponents of the project. The investor would receive a royalty share of gold and silver production.

“We are trying to create economic opportunities and jobs and these funds will help us do that,” he said.

The Pebble mineral deposit is 200 miles south-west of Anchorage and anglers and conservationists are concerned that pollution from the mine would be devastating for the world’s largest sockeye salmon fishery.

In 2020, the US Army Corps of Engineers rejected the developer’s 20-year permit application, a decision being appealed by Northern Dynasty. And this year the Environmental Protection Agency issued a proposal that would block plans if approved. That proposal is currently undergoing a public comment period.

This latest investment in the project has increased the urgency for the proposal to be finalised and the project stopped.

An economic assessment of Pebble conducted last year found it could produce revenues of $1.7 billion annually over 20 years.

The move comes as 2022 saw the largest sockeye salmon returns in recorded history for Bristol Bay, with over 78 million fish.

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