US needs to develop its own copper resources, says Pebble owner

20th January 2022

By: Mariaan Webb

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online


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Northern Dynasty, the owner of the contentious Pebble copper/gold mine, in south-west Alaska, says that the US must develop its own copper resources to ensure a successful energy transition to a zero-carbon economy.

Citing forecasts from major banks about a looming deficit and higher copper prices, CEO Ron Thiessen says that the “only realistic way to meet demand is to increase production”.

“The US has significant copper resources within its borders, all it needs to do is to develop them,” he said on Wednesday, which was the one-year anniversary of submitting an appeal to the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) regarding the Pebble project.

Thiessen took a swipe at those opposing the Pebble project, or mining in the US in general. “It appears to me that the loudest voices expressing concern about the impacts of climate change and the desperate need for action are also the loudest voices opposing any mining whatsoever in the United States. That isn’t just incomprehensible, it is impossible.

“The fact is that about 80% of all copper ever produced is still in use, so the suggestion that we can simply obtain 100% of new supply needed, effectively as much copper that has ever been produced, from recycling 20% of historic production is a physical and mathematical fantasy,” he said.

Commenting on the appeal process, Thiessen said that Northern Dynasty continued to approach the USACE to see if they required additional information or have a decision on whether a site visit was needed.

“While we are being told that the USACE is working diligently on our file, it has now been a year without discernible progress in terms of a decision. We would take significantly more comfort if we could actually see signs of progress.”

Thiessen said that Northern Dynasty was not sitting idle while waiting for a decision. “We continue to assess legal options to address the many possible outcomes from their decision. We are also studying the positive economic benefits of our project for Alaska and the US Pebble project is too important to be stifled by regulatory inaction.”

The project is one of the world's biggest copper and gold deposits and has been through a roller coaster of regulation over the past 13 years.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter




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