Yesterday, the sole company backing the proposed Pebble mine, Northern Dynasty Minerals, filed its 2018 annual report with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The SEC is responsible for protecting investors, maintaining fair and orderly functioning of the securities markets. This report is an honest look at the finances of Pebble.
Below are two highlights from Pebble’s annual report.
1. Pebble is very low on cash:
The report says, “The Company incurred a consolidated net loss of $16 million during the year ended December 31, 2018 and, as of that date, the Company’s consolidated deficit was $487 million. These conditions, …, raise substantial doubt about its ability to continue as a going concern,” according to independent public accounting firm, Deloitte.
When we consider Pebble’s history of taking shortcuts, and likelihood of leaving a giant mess atop Bristol Bay’s headwaters and then running out of money to clean it up or take care of it, its financials become extremely important.
During this comment period we need to ask ourselves if we want to entrust one of our most valuable regions to a company that cannot maintain financial support. If Pebble creates a mess in Bristol Bay and then goes bankrupt, it is up to Alaskans to foot the bill. Take action today.
2. The overall design is not finalized, and the project may not even be economically feasible:
“The Group is in the process of exploring and developing the Pebble Project and has not yet determined whether the Pebble Project contains mineral reserves that are economically recoverable.” (page 7) - It is extremely rare not to have completed an economic feasibility study at this point in the permitting process.
“Northern Dynasty cautions that the current Project Description may not be the ultimate development plan for the project and that a final project design has not been selected.” (page 42)
“The proposed project uses a portion of the currently estimated Pebble mineral resources. This does not preclude development of additional resources in other phases of the project in the future, although any subsequent phases of development would require […] EIS review process under NEPA.” (page 44)
Essentially this says, as confirmed by former employee of former Pebble investor Rio Tinto, that Pebble would only turn a profit if it vastly expands from the current plan it touts to Alaskans. The evidence for this, and for Pebble’s extensive deception campaign to Alaskans to permit a new, “smaller” mine, is ample:
Pebble itself referred to that possibility in a September 2017 speech to investors at the Denver Gold Forum. They said, “Regulators look at footprint and impacts, and as we try and grow the economic outcomes, our footprint grows, and so does our impacts.”
Up until recently, PLP’s own website advertised, “the Deposit may hold a century’s worth of minerals.”
Ron Thiessen, Pebble’s President and CEO, recently boasted the project is “a multi-generational opportunity. It’s size and scale will lead to a very, very long life mine.”
Additionally, Pebble is actively pursuing a new exploration permit from the Alaska Department of Natural Resources that would allow it to drill new well holes far outside the footprint of its permit application to the Corps.
Just five days after the Corps of Engineers released the DEIS - a key step in Pebble’s current permitting process, Ron Theissen, CEO of Pebble’s parent company, Northern Dynasty Minerals, was asked, “Do you think the scope as time goes on, as you’ve proved you can approach it successfully and environmentally, that you can then expand the project beyond?” Revealing PLP’s true intent, Mr. Theissen answered: “Well I think that’s the whole purpose, is to gain your social license to operate.” (at 14:30-16:00)
The proposed Pebble mine never should have gotten this far in the permitting process and they are fooling Alaskans with a “small mine” ploy.
The currently plan presented by Pebble would access roughly 1/8th of the mineral resource and leave behind the most valuable portions of the deposit. It is not economically feasible without expansion to the entire deposit and is a mere fraction the size and scale of what Pebble eventually intends to develop.
If you believe that Bristol Bay’s fisheries - and the jobs and cultures that depend on them - should be protected, please take a moment to take action today.