NEW YORK The
United States might be unable to make up the growing gap
between copper consumption and production due to the delay in
further development and permitting of Northern Dynasty Minerals
Ltd.s mine project in southwestern Alaska, according to
American Resource Policy Network (ARPN) president Daniel
Dynastys project description for the
copper-gold-molybdenum Pebble Mine project, with estimated
deposits of at least 55 billion of pounds copper, is 99 percent
complete. But resistance from local environmental groups and
the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency over the mines
potential impact on the Bristol Bay fish population has delayed
amm.com, June 4, 2012).
"The EPA has devised
and put in play a review that was preceding the permitting
process, a water assessment theyre basing on a
hypothetical construct rather than evaluating a specific mine
plan, which is the traditional way," McGroarty told
AMM. "This was novel, but it had to have elevated the
risk that Anglo American (Plc) felt about the program."
Partner Anglo American
(US) Pebble LLC, recently withdrew from the projects
amm.com, Sept. 16).
The ARPN fears the
watershed assessment could become a tactic used to prevent
mines from developing, which would contribute to a growing U.S.
reliance on imported copper, McGroarty said, noting that the
nation imports 35 percent of its copper vs. 7 percent 20 years
ago. "You can take a mine like pebble at full production and
fill the gap."
Vancouver, British Columbia, doesnt believe Anglo
American left the project because of the water assessment, vice
president of public affairs Sean Magee said. But the EPAs
assessment has been problematic in skewing the publics
idea of the project, he added.
"Theres been a
rush to judgement in the public realm. ... The Pebble
partnership that we own, that management group has expended a
lot of time and money in that process rather than being focused
in the actual engineering of the project," he said.
couldnt be reached for comment.
There has been some
reassuring change in EPA leadership in the region, with new
administrator Gina McCarthy emphasizing a focus on science
rather than politics, Magee said. "Her clear focus is on
climate change and carbon issues, and at this point we believe
any pre-emptive action on any project would not only be
extraordinary but unprecedented and possibly unlawful."
The EPA started the
assessment after receiving requests from tribes and other
stakeholders to use its Clean Water Act authorities to protect
Bristol Bay, however the agency hasnt yet decided to use
its Clean Water authorities, EPA spokeswoman Hanady A. Kader
said via e-mail.
isnt meant to reflect any judgment on the project, it is
a scientific project to look at how large-scale mining will
affect Bristol Bay, she said, adding that the EPA intends to
complete its assessment this year.