January 2, 2014
Alaska has seen the development of successful mines at places like Fort Knox, Greens Creek and Red Dog. Some mines produce positive benefits for both Alaska and the mining industry.
Not all mines are the same, however. Recently, Northern Dynasty's chief executive, Ron Thiessen, made the following comments about the Pebble prospect that deserve serious scrutiny and challenge:
1. "Pebble is Alaska's." "(Pebble) can and will be built."
In a recent speech before the Resource Development Council and in comments to this paper, Mr. Thiessen repeatedly refers to the Pebble site as "Alaska's." Subject to state approval, however, the right to develop the mine claim belongs to Northern Dynasty. Make no mistake, under current law, almost all of the profits would belong to Northern Dynasty.
Next, Mr. Thiessen's foreclosing any possibility that the mine won't happen is corporate arrogance. While all advocates can commit acts of "puffing" (I confess to occasional lapses), Northern Dynasty's rhetoric leaves me feeling, well, colonized. It is also inconsistent with its former partner, Anglo-American's, promise that "(i)f the mine cannot be developed in a way that provides proper protections, (they) will not build it." Anglo's withdrawal from the project speaks volumes.