Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd. reports that its 100%-owned, US-based subsidiary Pebble Limited Partnership is preparing a comprehensive and substantive ‘request for appeal' with respect to the US Army Corps of Engineers' issuance last week of a negative Record of Decision for the proposed Pebble copper-gold-molybdenum-silver-rhenium mine in southwest AlaskaThe ROD issued by the lead federal regulator for Alaska's ...

Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd. (TSX:NDM)(NYSE American:NAK) ("Northern Dynasty" or the "Company") reports that its 100%-owned, US-based subsidiary Pebble Limited Partnership (the "Pebble Partnership") is preparing a comprehensive and substantive ‘request for appeal' ("RFA") with respect to the US Army Corps of Engineers' ("USACE") issuance last week of a negative Record of Decision ("ROD") for the proposed Pebble copper-gold-molybdenum-silver-rhenium mine in southwest Alaska

The ROD issued by the lead federal regulator for Alaska's Pebble Project on November 25, 2020 denied the project a ‘dredge and fill' permit under the Clean Water Act on the grounds that its ‘compensatory mitigation plan' ("CMP") is non-compliant and the project is not in the ‘public interest.' The Pebble Partnership has 60 days to submit its application for administrative appeal to the USACE's Pacific Ocean Division Engineer headquartered in Hawaii.

"We will take a significant proportion of the time allotted to us to complete an exhaustive review of the administrative record pertinent to the Pebble Project Environmental Impact Statement ("EIS") and ROD, to prepare a comprehensive and substantive appeal and submit an RFA to the Division Engineer," said Ron Thiessen, Northern Dynasty President & CEO.

"It is our view that this decision, the process by which it was reached and the facts upon which it is based stand as a significant outlier from standard USACE precedent and practice. We believe there is a sound basis for this permitting decision to be overturned."

Thiessen confirmed that Northern Dynasty and the Pebble Partnership intend to challenge the USACE's permitting decision on procedural, substantive and legal grounds. Among the substantive issues to be raised is Northern Dynasty's contention that the ROD - and, in particular, the Public Interest Review ("PIR") findings upon which it is based - are fundamentally unsupported by the Pebble Project EIS.

Under US regulatory law, permitting decisions for major development projects must be based on an ‘administrative record' - which, in Pebble's case, includes the Final EIS published by the USACE in July 2020.

When it comes to Pebble's potential economic benefits, water quality impacts, effects on subsistence fishing and hunting opportunities, the likelihood and consequence of a catastrophic tailings storage facility failure, among other issues, Northern Dynasty believes the USACE has based its permitting decision on a PIR that is wholly inconsistent with, and at times diametrically opposed to, findings in the Final EIS.

On the Pebble Project's potential ‘economic contribution' to the Bristol Bay region and State of Alaska:

  • in supporting documents for its ROD, the USACE claims the Pebble Project's economic benefits are "speculative" and "would be primarily received by the private applicant";
  • in the Final EIS, the USACE forecast Pebble would make a significant positive contribution to state and local government tax revenues and a profound socioeconomic contribution to the Bristol Bay region:

"An estimated $64 million annually in state corporate taxes during the operations phase. It was estimated that the operations phase could also generate $41 million annually from State mining license taxes. The project could generate $20 million annually (in 2011 dollars) in state royalty payments during the operations phase." (4.3-11)

"The project would generate $25 million annually in state taxes through construction, and $84 million annually in state taxes and royalty payments during the operations phase. The project would generate $27 million annually in severances taxes for the LPB during operations, and annual property tax revenue to the Kenai Peninsula Borough based on assessed value of project-related real property." (ES 47-48)

"Local employment opportunities could offset current trends of outmigration in some communities and provide service fee revenue to maintain or even improve community infrastructure." (4.3-6-4.3-7)

"In addition, an increased revenue stream to the LPB (Lake & Peninsula Borough), along with stabilization of population levels attributable to employment opportunities, could result in improvements to community health care facilities throughout the borough." (4.3-8)

On the Pebble Project's potential effects on ‘water quality':

  • in supporting documents for its ROD, the USACE claims Pebble would "cause water quality degradation";
  • in the Final EIS, the USACE found the Pebble Project would protect downstream water quality:

"…permit stipulation requires treated water quality monitoring, to ensure discharged water meets applicable water quality criteria. Assuming these protections are adopted, direct and indirect impacts of treated contact waters to off-site surface water are not expected to occur." (ES-70)

"There would be no effects on any community groundwater or surface water supplies from the changes in groundwater flows at the mine site." (ES 67)

"With few exceptions, predicted changes in habitat in the modeled portion of the upper mainstem Koktuli River (upstream of the Swan River) are near zero or positive, suggesting that project effects from flow changes would not negatively impact reaches downstream of the NFK and SFK confluence, or in UTC." (4.24-13)

On the Pebble Project's potential effects on ‘subsistence fishing and hunting':

  • in supporting documents for its ROD, the USACE claims Pebble would lead to "reduced subsistence opportunities";
  • in the Final EIS, the USACE found the Pebble Project would have no impact on subsistence fishing and hunting opportunities:

"Overall, impacts to fish and wildlife would not be expected to impact harvest levels. Resources would continue to be available because no population level decrease in resources would be anticipated." (ES 51)

On the likelihood and consequence of a ‘catastrophic tailings storage facility failure':

  • in supporting documents for its ROD, the USACE found that in "the event of human failure and/or a catastrophic event (at Pebble), the commercial and/or subsistence (fisheries) resources would be irrevocably harmed.";
  • in the Final EIS, the USACE found that, based on the engineering design submitted for the Pebble tailings storage facility, it could not establish a failure mechanism that would lead to a catastrophic failure. Accordingly, it did not model the effects of catastrophic failure that would require a "lengthy causal chain of unlikely events." (EIS 100)

"The Applicant's bulk TSF design is different than that of most other historic and current TSFs. The proposed design is especially distinct when compared to most historic mines that have experience large failures." (K4.27-4)

Following receipt of an RFA, the USACE will have 30 days to notify the Pebble Partnership as to whether the appeal is complete. If complete, a Review Officer will be appointed and an appeal conference held between the parties within 60 days of receipt of the Pebble Partnership's RFA.

USACE guidelines indicate the federal agency's administrative appeal should conclude within 90 days.

"We believe the Pebble Project as proposed can meet the high environmental standards enforced in the Clean Water Act and other federal statutes, including co-existing with the world-class subsistence, commercial and sport fisheries of Bristol Bay," Thiessen said. "Perhaps more importantly in the near-term, we believe the findings of the Record of Decision released by the USACE last week are both inconsistent with, and in places wholly contradictory to, the administrative record established for federal permitting decisions at Pebble by the Final EIS published in July 2020.

"We believe the facts are on our side, and we intend to pursue every avenue of appeal available to the Company with vigor and determination."

About Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd.

Northern Dynasty is a mineral exploration and development company based in Vancouver, Canada. Northern Dynasty's principal asset, owned through its wholly-owned Alaska-based U.S. subsidiary, Pebble Limited Partnership ("PLP"), is a 100% interest in a contiguous block of 2,402 mineral claims in southwest Alaska, including the Pebble deposit. PLP is the proponent of the Pebble Project, an initiative to develop one of the world's most important mineral resources.

For further details on Northern Dynasty and the Pebble Project, please visit the Company's website at www.northerndynastyminerals.com or contact Investor services at (604) 684-6365 or within North America at 1-800-667-2114. Review Canadian public filings at www.sedar.com and US public filings at www.sec.gov.

Ronald W. Thiessen
President & CEO

US Media Contact:
Dan Gagnier
Gagnier Communications
(646) 569-5897

Forward-Looking Information and other Cautionary Factors
This release includes certain statements that may be deemed "forward-looking statements" under applicable law. All statements in this release, other than statements of historical facts, that address permitting, development and production for the Pebble Project are forward-looking statements. These statements include statements regarding (i) the mine plan for the Pebble Project, (ii) the social integration of the Pebble Project into the Bristol Bay region and benefits for Alaska, (iii) the political and public support for the permitting process, (iv) the ability to successfully appeal the negative Record of Decision and secure the issuance of a positive Record of Decision by the US Army Corps of Engineers and the ability of the Pebble Project to secure state permits, (v) the right-sizing and de-risking of the Pebble Project, (vi) the design and operating parameters for the Pebble Project mine plan, (vii) exploration potential of the Pebble Project, (viii) future demand for copper and gold, (ix) the potential partnering of the Pebble Project, and (x) the ability and timetable of NDM to develop the Pebble Project and become a leading copper, gold and molybdenum producer. Although NDM believes the expectations expressed in these forward-looking statements are based on reasonable assumptions, such statements should not be in any way be construed as guarantees that the Pebble Project will secure all required government permits, establish the commercial feasibility of the Pebble Project or develop the Pebble Project. Assumptions used by NDM to develop forward-looking statements include the assumptions that (i) the Pebble Project will obtain all required environmental and other permits and all land use and other licenses without undue delay, (ii) studies for the development of the Pebble Project will be positive, (iii) NDM's estimates of mineral resources will not change, (iv) NDM will be able to establish the commercial feasibility of the Pebble Project, and (v) NDM will be able to secure the financing required to develop the Pebble Project. The likelihood of future mining at the Pebble Project is subject to a large number of risks and will require achievement of a number of technical, economic and legal objectives, including (i) obtaining necessary mining and construction permits, licenses and approvals without undue delay, including without delay due to third party opposition or changes in government policies, (ii) finalization of the mine plan for the Pebble Project, (iii) the completion of feasibility studies demonstrating that any Pebble Project mineral resources that can be economically mined, (iv) completion of all necessary engineering for mining and processing facilities, (v) the inability of NDM to secure a partner for the development of the Pebble Project, and (vi) receipt by NDM of significant additional financing to fund these objectives as well as funding mine construction, which financing may not be available to NDM on acceptable terms or on any terms at all. NDM is also subject to the specific risks inherent in the mining business as well as general economic and business conditions, such as the current uncertainties with regard to COVID-19.

The National Environment Policy Act Environmental Impact Statement process requires a comprehensive "alternatives assessment" be undertaken to consider a broad range of development alternatives, the final project design and operating parameters for the Pebble Project and associated infrastructure may vary significantly from that currently contemplated. As a result, the Company will continue to consider various development options and no final project design has been selected at this time.

For more information on the Company, Investors should review the Company's filings with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission and its home jurisdiction filings that are available at www.sedar.com

SOURCE: Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd.



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Project Progress

Drilling programmes continue to upgrade mineral resource confidence, close the gaps in resource and to target extensional areas of the mineralised formation. Currently the Phase 2 reverse circulation ("RC") drilling programme is being completed in the South East of the Nifty open pit. There are now approaching 4,000 samples from this programme that have not had assays returned. Further to this, there remain over 8,000 samples for which assays have not been returned from the +16,000 metre South West drilling programme that was completed in November. The RC drilling continues to intersect ore grade intervals and following receipt of assays, will be included in the mineral resource model for the design and scheduling of the planned Nifty open pit. Once all of the assays have been received, a follow up Phase 2 drilling programme will be planned in the South West of the Nifty open pit and a follow up Phase 3 drilling programme in the South East of the Nifty open pit will be planned. This is very positive for the Nifty Copper Project as there are further copper tonnes to be added to the project copper inventory but also potentially delays final mine designs and schedule progress.

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Engineering design of the SX-EW plant and heap leach pads is nearing completion. The new heap leach pads construction and design detail is required for the Works Approval submission so that construction activities can commence. Concurrent with the design process, tenders are being issued for the purchase and supply of long lead items.

Metallurgy check column test work continues. Four columns have been undertaken, including the fourth column which is a 6-metre column to match operating conditions. Results have been as expected and optimisation of reagent consumptions continues. When this round of work has been completed, a number of follow up tests will be conducted to further optimise the operating parameters. Reporting to the market on these results will be done once the test work has been completed on the residues and the reports compiled. There will also be follow up tests undertaken on core and sonic drill samples. In addition, there are 550 sonic samples yet to be assayed that have been obtained from around the site to test for the location of stockpiled oxide material.

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Government staff have been very helpful in assisting CYM in making sure that the required proposals contain all that is necessary for an efficient approval process but the various departments, like the whole WA resource industry are suffering from understaffing, and it is expected that the timelines to approval will be longer than originally anticipated. Site visits have been undertaken and the learnings from these visits have been helpful in ensuring that the proposal documentation is complete.

During CYM's tenure, staff have rectified a number of legacy issues at the site that have been paid little attention for some years and site crews have managed to rectify a number of areas that have previously been raised by the regulators. Further, the site crew have been cleaning and collecting years of rubbish and waste to centralised locations and are now going through a process of scrap, recycle or disposal for these waste streams. These waste streams also include chemicals and reagents that are expired and have been on site for many years. The sale of unwanted or scrap equipment has been commenced with sold items already been removed from site. This process will continue for some time due to the volume of equipment, materials, scrap and rubbish that has built up while Nifty was operational.

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Management Appointments

CYM is pleased to announce it has strengthened its management team as it progresses towards becoming a copper producer. The appointments made are to ready the team for the transition from Restart Study to construction and ultimately to production at the Nifty Copper Project. The company is fortunate to be able to make such quality appointments during a very tight labour market and this reinforces the quality of Cyprium's portfolio of Copper projects and the appeal of the Nifty Restart to experienced industry veterans.

John Banning has been promoted as the Chief Operating Officer for Cyprium. John's previous role for Cyprium was General Manager - Nifty and he is a mining engineer with over 20 years' experience in the mining and construction industries covering multiple commodities. His professional expertise extends from project development, construction, operations, technical, business improvement and management. John has previously been an independent consultant, Managing Director and Regional General Manager. He has worked with multiple large and mid-size resource companies in Australia and overseas.

Gavin Hammer has been promoted as the General Manager - Project Development and Operational Readiness. Gavin's previous role for Cyprium was Manager Engineering. Gavin is a maintenance professional with over 30 years' experience in asset maintenance and management, which includes surface and underground operations within fixed and mobile plant applications. His areas of expertise include the construction, commissioning, optimisation and asset management of process plants and mobile fleet operations in local and remote regions. Prior to joining Cyprium Metals, Gavin spent 5 years in Indonesia at the Wetar Copper Project follow by 2 years in Western Africa in operational and project construction roles.

Clint Moxham has been appointed as General Manager - Nifty. Clint is a mining engineer with over 20 years' of experience, with a track record of delivering greenfield and restart operations. He has a reputation of safe operations with a career long record of team management and mining operations successes. He is a mining engineer, geologist and mineral economist, with multi commodity expertise ranging from mining strategy, risk management, data analysis, infrastructure development, geological understanding, option analysis and mining due diligence.

Amanda Croft has been appointed Technical Services Manager - Nifty. Amanda is a geologist with over 20 years' experience in the mining industry covering multiple commodities. Her professional expertise extends from development and operational open pit and underground mines as well as greenfield and brownfield exploration in Australia and Africa. She has previously held management roles with a number of resource companies.

Managing Director Barry Cahill commented:

"The Cyprium team continues to kick goals on its way to producing copper metal plate at Nifty. Drilling success continues, design process is proceeding, and we have commenced refurbishment of the project. Despite our best efforts and the exceptional progress that we have made in 8 months, there are pressures being felt throughout the mining industry. These additional pressures are primarily due to labour shortages, increasing costs, COVID related impacts and long timelines that have impacted on our original projections.

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To view the Investor Webinar Presentation, please visit:
https://www.abnnewswire.net/lnk/E9LNO8T3



About Cyprium Metals Ltd:

Cyprium Metals Limited (ASX:CYM) is poised to grow to a mid-tier mining business and manage a portfolio of Australian copper projects to deliver vital natural resources, strong shareholder returns and sustainable value for our stakeholders. We pursue this aim, in genuine partnerships with employees, customers, shareholders, local communities and other stakeholders, which is based on integrity, co-operation, transparency and mutual value creation.



Source:
Cyprium Metals Ltd

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