The HC Wainwright conference has come and gone and once again was representative of an interesting array of the opportunities to come. Of the abundance of fascinating stories told, one that particularly took our fancy was that of the NYSE American and TSX listed Northern Dynasty Minerals.
It involves the attempted development of one of the biggest gold and copper resources in the world against a backdrop of movie stars, Presidents, global mining giants and the sockeye salmon.
The saga began with little fanfare when the Pebble deposit was identified in the Bristol Bay region in Alaska.
The ups and downs since then have meant that the deal has taken longer to consummate than Big Sam McCord and Jenny’s alliance in Johnny Horton’s classic North to Alaska.
One of the hiccups along the way has been concerns raised by local environmental activist group, the Bristol Bay Native Corporation, about the project’s possible effects on the future of the local fishing industry.
CCC is the first to attest that nothing adds to the color of a sizzling paella on the barbie than some juicy sockeye fillets.
Northern Dynasty’s Doug Allen believes the company has successfully addressed this issue through a program of key negotiated partnerships with local communities, Alaska Natives and commercial fishing interests.
It has been supplemented by a concerted community outreach program guided by University of Alaska President Emeritus, General Mark Hamilton.
An additional finely honed mine design has reduced the development footprint of Pebble by more than half which will reduce the potential impact on sockeye fishery to 0.08%.
Another bugbear for progress at Pebble has been the permitting process.
After hitting a logjam with the EPA under the previous administration, Northern Dynasty is hopeful that a more mining friendly attitude at a Federal and State government level could expedite progress in this area with a green light possible early in 2019.
Along the way, the Pebble Partnership has forged and been freed from Big Miner alliances with Rio Tinto and Anglo American and was most recently left at the aisle by First Quantum Minerals after a six months courtship.
A new consort is being keenly sought and with the environmental issues addressed and the permitting process moving on a favorable path the company is hopeful that this will start to be reflected in the share price.
So now the fish are jumping, let’s hope the copper is high (apologies to George Gershwin and Dubose Heyward)