January 7, 2014
Bad to very much worse. That sums up the lack of progress in 2013 for the massive Pebble Mine, proposed by a diminishing consortium of foreign mining companies for the headwaters of the Bristol Bay wild salmon fishery in southwest Alaska.
Coming off a disappointing 2012, the Pebble Limited Partnership and its uniquely reckless project hit the rocks repeatedly in 2013. As one investment commentator summed it up for Motley Fool, the 100 percent owner of the Pebble project, Northern Dynasty Minerals, ends the year with "one foot in the grave" -- maybe "dead and about to be buried."
As in 2012, no permit application was filed. In July, Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) called on the Pebble Partnership to release their plans and expressed her growing impatience, citing public "anxiety, frustration, and confusion" resulting from the Pebble Partnership's lack of discernible progress.
In no particular order, these 10 2013 highlights tell the story:
In September, mining giant Anglo American -- the 50 percent owner of the Pebble project -- withdrew, walking away from over $540 million invested and a $1.5 billion commitment. Anglo followed Mitsubishi Corporation, which ended its participation in 2011.
The stock value of the remaining owner of the project -- small Canadian mining company Northern Dynasty Minerals (NDM) -- dropped sharply again, and it ended the year at1.31 per share -- an over 90 percent drop from its 21.02 a share high in January 2011 and down from 3.90 just one year ago. It committed to recruit another major mining company partner -- and specifically mentioned its 19 percent shareholder Rio Tinto as a candidate -- but NDM ended the year still looking. Notably, NDM's search for a buyer of its own interest in Pebble -- announced in 2011 -- got no takers.