New Pebble funder, possible partner by 2022

Northern Dynasty Minerals (NDM) has needed a new partner, or partners, since Anglo American left the project four years ago. The company has blamed its slow progress on a few things, including EPA's actions to try and place restrictions on certain mining activities at the Pebble deposit. NDM did promise it would sign a partner and submit permitting docs by the end of 2017.

Early this week First Quantum Minerals Ltd. (FQM) announced its interest in the project, with a lot of caveats. First, NDM needs to complete due diligence, and acquire some regulatory approvals before an "affiliate" of FQM will sign an "Option Agreement." The two entities must also negotiate details over the commercial interests of the project. At the earliest, it would be 2022 before FQM would decide to enter a 50% partnership on the Pebble project.

The timeline:

  • FQM expects to sign the Option Agreement by the beginning of 2nd quarter 2018.
  • After that, a four-year term begins, during which FQM will try to get stakeholders on board. During the term, it will pay a total of $150 million in equal $37.5 million increments.
  • When the four-year term is up, FQM can opt for a 2-year extension.
  • At the end of the 4 or 6-year term, FQM can decide to buy a 50% stake in the project. Or not. 

The framework announced this week, and the first details released from the future Option Agreement, illustrate the difficulties of finding a new partner. FQM shows interest, but also business savvy, by taking its time to get into the project and allowing enough slack to extricate later if it chooses. For its part, NDM delivered on its promise of announcing a deal in 2017 – just barely.

Pebble Limited Partnership announced Thursday that it would submit state and federal permit applications on Friday, December 22, thus meeting its deadline to start the process in 2017. That process will entail some public comment periods and the development of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). Want to understand more about the process? Check out our Permitting Resources page where we have links to our Permitting Guide and our take on different permitting "claims."

Who is First Quantum Minerals Ltd.?

Learn about the global company that has agreed to fund the permitting process for Northern Dynasty's Pebble project. What is its company culture? Its take on enviornmental and sustabinability issues? Where are its existing mines and its projects in development?

Photo credit: Bryan Adams

Of interest

Alaska Water Wars project shares the stories of Alaska Native people as they navigate the benefits and risks posed by new natural resource development projects coming to their regions. Included is a five-part series focused on the Pebble mine issue. Photo credit: Bryan Adams

Pebble Watch is a program of the Bristol Bay Native Corporation Land Department.
Learn more at

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