VANCOUVER, March 19, 2013 /PRNewswire/ - Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd. ("Northern Dynasty" or the "Company") (TSX: NDM; NYSE MKT: NAK) comments on recent statements from US Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) regarding the Company's comments on the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) draft Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment (BBWA) report in 2012 and the Company's disclosure of its 2011 Preliminary Economic Assessment of the Pebble gold-copper project.
In a July 2012 news release, Northern Dynasty stated that "the draft (BBWA) assessment evaluated the potential effects of a 'hypothetical mine scenario' as determined by the EPA, even though this scenario could not be permitted under federal and state law." Senator Cantwell has expressed concerns to the effect that Northern Dynasty may be "misleading investors" because Northern Dynasty is pointing out that the Preliminary Economic Assessment was not the actual basis for the EPA's hypothetical model. While the Preliminary Economic Assessment presented a potential mine development scenario at Pebble, it was not intended to include all the mine design information and mitigating measures (as required for permitting) that would have allowed for a detailed assessment by the EPA. According to statements by the EPA, the Preliminary Economic Assessment formed some part of the input into the draft Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment (BBWA) report in 2012.
"Senator Cantwell's concerns have no basis in fact," said Ron Thiessen, President & CEO of Northern Dynasty. "While the EPA may have used some of the information presented in our Preliminary Economic Assessment to create a 'hypothetical mining scenario', it is the EPA alone that is responsible for designing and then assessing the effects of the hypothetical mine in the BBWA. To suggest that Northern Dynasty is responsible for the EPA's hypothetical project which was evaluated in the EPA's draft BBWA when we had no involvement with the report is wrong."
Thiessen pointed out that:
- Northern Dynasty's 2011 Preliminary Economic Assessment presents Northern Dynasty's view of a potential development plan for the Pebble Project at a conceptual level only for the purpose of broadly evaluating project economics. The 'preliminary economic evaluation' presents no detailed engineering, no environmental management plans, no fisheries mitigation considerations or other strategies for managing potential environmental effects.
- Many of the environmental consequences predicted in the EPA's draft Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment are unrelated to the project concept presented in Northern Dynasty's Preliminary Economic Assessment. For instance, the EPA's tailings embankment design and its road-building, culvert and pipeline design standards were derived from other sources, yet contribute to some of the most significant impacts predicted in the BBWA.
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