Mine opponents ask SEC to investigate Pebble’s parent company

Securities and Exchange Commission building in Washington, D.C. (Photo by SEC)

Two groups hoping to stop the Pebble Mine are asking the Securities and Exchange Commission to investigate Pebble’s parent company.

The Justice and Corporate Accountability Project sent the request on behalf of Earthworks, a mining watchdog. They told the commission that Northern Dynasty Minerals has described a massive deposit to potential investors while Pebble’s permit application describes a mine barely a tenth that size.

The groups also say Pebble’s closure plan for the mine would require it to backfill the open pit with millions of tons of tailings, waste rock and water, which they said would render it economically unfeasible to conduct more mining in the pit. The two groups filed a similar request with the Securities Commission of British Columbia.

Other mine opponents make a similar argument in asking the Corps of Engineers to throw out the proposed Environmental Impact Statement and start over. They say the environmental report doesn’t describe the true scope of the project Northern Dynasty intends and that the scaled-back proposal is a Trojan horse.

Pebble spokesman Mike Heatwole said in an email that Pebble has no plans to expand the mine beyond the 20-year development plan the Corps of Engineers is evaluating.

The public comment period for the environmental report ends May 30, though Sen. Lisa Murkowski is among those asking for an extension to allow more Alaskans to weigh in.

Liz Ruskin is the Washington, D.C., correspondent for Alaska Public Media. She reports from the U.S. Capitol and from Anchorage. Reach her at lruskin@alaskapublic.org.

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