WRITTEN BY: Sean Cockerham
PUBLISHED: September 16, 2013
To read full article, visit Anchorage Daily News

WASHINGTON — British mining giant Anglo American is abandoning its effort to develop Alaska’s Pebble Mine, leaving Canadian explorer Northern Dynasty Minerals alone in its attempt to push through the massive and controversial project.

Anglo American’s decision to withdraw comes as scrutiny grows over the impact the mine would have on the world’s best-remaining run of wild salmon.

Northern Dynasty is vowing to press forward on the mine. But it’s questionable how far the company can go without the finances of a big partner like Anglo American.

Northern Dynasty spokesman Sean McGee said the company has the financial ability to get the project through the next step of seeking state and federal permits.

“In the near to medium term, we have the resources and expertise to move the project forward,” he said Monday.

But Northern Dynasty is expected to need another partner or to sell its stake in the project to a different developer if Pebble is ever to start producing.

“In my view, it is unlikely this project will go forward to construction and operations with Northern Dynasty as the sole owner,” McGee said in an interview.

Northern Dynasty’s stock fell 33 percent on Monday at the news Anglo American was pulling out of the project. Pebble is the principal asset for Northern Dynasty.

Northern Dynasty acquired the prospect in 2001 and entered the partnership with Anglo American six years later. Each company owned half the Pebble Partnership, an Anchorage, Alaska-based company set up to design, permit and operate the mine. Anglo American will take a $300 million write-down for withdrawing.

Anglo American CEO Mark Cutifani said Monday that his company wants to focus on lower-risk projects.

“Despite our belief that Pebble is a deposit of rare magnitude and quality, we have taken the decision to withdraw following a thorough assessment of Anglo American’s extensive pipeline of long-dated project options,” he said in a written statement. “Our focus has been to prioritize capital to projects with the highest value and lowest risks within our portfolio.”

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