The Pebble Limited Partnership (PLP) – a subsidiary of Northern Dynasty – has finalised a right-of-way agreement with Iliamna Natives, securing the right to use defined portions of its lands for the construction and operation of transportation infrastructure associated with the Pebble project.
Iliamna Natives is an Alaska Native village corporation with extensive land holdings proximal to the Pebble site, in south-west Alaska and represents more than 150 native shareholders, many of whom live in the nearby village of Iliamna.
The right-of-way agreement with Iliamna Natives is the second such agreement the PLP has reached with Native landowners to secure access to the project site for construction and operation of the proposed mine. A similar agreement was reached with Alaska Peninsula, a village corporation with land holdings both north and south of Lake Iliamna, last November.
The Iliamna agreement provides the PLP with an important alternative ferry landing site and road/utility corridor on the north side of Lake Iliamna, and greater flexibility as the project advances toward a final record of decision on the federal environmental impact statement (EIS) permitting process next year.
In a statement distributed by Northern Dynasty, Iliamna Natives president Lorene Anelon says that the organisation sees the opportunities that Pebble could provide for the village.
In February, the US Army Corps of Engineers released the draft EIS for the Pebble project, confirming there are no data gaps or other outstanding information requirements with potential to block or delay regulatory approval for the project. The draft EIS also indicates that development of the Pebble resource can proceed without harm to the salmon fisheries of western Alaska or other significant impacts.
The lands addressed in the latest right-of-way agreement reflect one of the transportation corridors identified in draft EIS. Specifically, it includes a ferry landing site east of the village of Iliamna at Eagle Bay, as well as road and pipeline corridors and associated material borrow sites to link the Pebble mine site to the Iliamna airport, and to the Eagle Bay ferry landing site.
To secure its right to use defined portions of land, PLP will make yearly toll payments to Iliamna Natives, and pay other fees prior to and during project construction and operations. In addition, Iliamna Natives will be granted 'preferred contractor' status at Pebble, which provides a preferential opportunity to bid on Pebble-related contracts located on its lands.
The two parties have also agreed to negotiate a profit-sharing agreement that will ensure Iliamna and its shareholders benefit directly from the profits generated by mining activity in the region.
PLP president and CEO Tom Collier says more partner announcements with Alaska Native corporations will be announced this year.
Discovered in the late 1990s, the Pebble deposit contains as much as 57-billion pounds of copper, 70-million ounces of gold, 3.4-million pounds of molybdenum and 344-million ounces of silver.
Northern Dynasty is proposing a conventional openpit mine that will produce an average of 613 000 t/y of copper/gold concentrate, containing 318-million pounds of copper a year, 362 000 oz/y of gold a year and 1.8-million ounces of silver a year over its 20-year mine life. However, the project has been dogged by opposition owing to its location at the headwaters of Bristol Bay, which is home to a large population of sockeye salmon.