Northern Dynasty stock jumps after EPA withdraws proposed Pebble restrictions

The proposed Pebble Mine site, pictured in 2014.
The proposed Pebble Mine site, pictured in 2014. (Photo by Jason Sear/KDLG)

Northern Dynasty Minerals, the sole owner of the Pebble Limited Partnership, saw a 60% jump in share price on Tuesday. The surge came after the Environmental Protection Agency withdrew proposed restrictions on the Pebble Mine project, clearing a potential hurdle to its development.

The value of Northern Dynasty stock has been low amid recent controversy surrounding the proposed mine. It hasn’t seen a boost of this magnitude in more than two years.

Northern Dynasty CEO Ron Thiessen said the stock movement reflects investor optimism that the project is on the right course.

“You saw it in the market,” Thiessen said. “Our shareholders felt this was a major impediment, and clearing it was a major milestone.”

Not everyone shares that positive outlook. Norm Van Vactor, president of the Bristol Bay Economic Development Corporation, thinks Tuesday’s movement on the markets was nothing more than a knee-jerk reaction to the day’s headlines. He still sees plenty of significant obstacles to the mine’s development.

Northern Dynasty, which trades as NAK on the New York Stock Exchange, saw shares go from 54 cents to 91 cents on Tuesday. (Google Finance graphic)

“At the end of the day,” Van Vactor said. “I have a high degree of confidence that science and reason will prevail. It’s certainly not where I would be putting my retirement funds or even my play money if I had any.”

KDLG reached out to a number of financial analysts for this story, but they all declined to comment.

Northern Dynasty shares have not seen much action over the past few years, a time during which the debate over Pebble Mine’s potential environmental impact has grown.

Thiessen said certain worries about the mine’s effects on Bristol Bay are unfounded.

Bristol Bay Economic Development Corporation CEO Norman Van Vactor of Dillingham gives a presentation at a press conference sponsored by Commercial Fishermen for Bristol Bay, Trout Unlimited and United Tribes of Bristol Bay on Juneau on April 1, 2019. The purpose of the meeting was to highlight potential harmful impacts to the Bristol Bay region from the proposed Pebble Mine.
Bristol Bay Economic Development Corporation CEO Norm Van Vactor. (Photo by Skip Gray/360 North)

“People shouldn’t have been scared away,” Thiessen said. “And our share price shouldn’t have been depressed, because people don’t tell the truth about the potential impact of this project on a fishery.”

Van Vactor disagrees. He’s holding out hope that the permitting process will take scientific findings into account and keep the project from getting too far.

“This is another bump in the road,” Van Vactor said. “We’ve seen a lot of them before and we will see more in the future. But at the end of the day I’m very optimistic that science and truth will prevail.”

Northern Dynasty stock was hovering around 80 cents at the end of trading on Wednesday. The next major step in the permitting process comes in early 2020, when the Army Corps of Engineers expects to release its final environmental review.

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