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Northern Dynasty Responds To Senator Maria Cantwell

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.

Northern Dynasty's Preliminary Economic Assessment and related SEC disclosure filings meet all applicable legal standards in the United States and Canada.  Mr. Thiessen also noted that the Pebble Limited Partnership (the "Pebble Partnership" or "PLP") continues to study the optimal design for permitting, building and operating an environmentally sound and socially responsible mine at Pebble.

"We remain committed to supporting PLP as it advances the Pebble Project through an unprecedented process of scientific study and meaningful stakeholder engagement," Thiessen said. "It is unfortunate that the SEC has been wrongfully involved in this Alaska permitting issue, but it will not disrupt the commitment PLP has made to the people of Alaska to submit a sustainable mine plan that co-exists with healthy fisheries and traditional ways of life."

About the Pebble Project

The Pebble Project is an initiative of PLP to responsibly develop a globally significant copper, gold and molybdenum deposit in southwest Alaska into a modern, long-life mine. The project is located 200 miles southwest of Anchorage on state land designated for mineral exploration and development. It is situated approximately 1,000 feet above sea-level, 65 miles from tidewater on Cook Inlet and presents favourable conditions for successful mine site and infrastructure development.

The Pebble Project consists of the Pebble deposit, surrounding mineral claims and a stream of financing being provided by Northern Dynasty's project partner Anglo American US (Pebble) LLC. The Pebble Partnership was established in July 2007 as a 50:50 partnership between a wholly-owned affiliate of Northern Dynasty and a wholly-owned subsidiary of Anglo American plc. Both Northern Dynasty and Anglo American have equal ownership and direction of the Pebble Partnership.

Under the terms of the Pebble Limited Partnership Agreement, Anglo American is required to elect to commit $1.5 billion in staged investments in order to retain its 50% interest in the Pebble Project. Funds provided by Anglo American are currently being invested in comprehensive exploration, engineering, environmental and socioeconomic programs toward the future development of the Pebble Project.

About Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd.

Northern Dynasty is a mineral exploration and development company based in Vancouver, Canada, which holds indirect interests in over 600 sq. miles of mineral claims in southwest Alaska, USA. Northern Dynasty's principal asset is a 50% interest in the Pebble Partnership, owner of the Pebble Project. The Pebble Project is an advanced-stage initiative to develop one of the world's most important mineral resources.

Ronald W. Thiessen President & CEO

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