THE BLOG
06/09/2016 06:52 pm ET Updated Jun 10, 2017

From Bad to Worse for the Pebble Mine: Latest Financial News From Its Canadian Owner

Deterioration continues in the financial condition of Northern Dynasty Minerals ("Northern Dynasty" or "NDM") - a small Canadian exploration company, and the only remaining investor in the once formidable Pebble Limited Partnership ("Pebble"). Recall that the three former major mining partners or investors - Mitsubishi Corporation, Anglo American, and Rio Tinto - each withdrew from the reckless project that, as proposed, would generate waste covering an area larger than Manhattan in the middle of the watershed that feeds "one of America's greatest national treasures."

According to Northern Dynasty's latest filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and financial disclosures, the continuing focus of its expenditures is on funding lawyers and lobbyists, including a promised "extraordinary bonus" of between $7.5 million and $12.5 million USD to its CEO Tom Collier:

  • In the first three months of this year, NDM spent C$3,854,000 on lawyers (after an outlay of C$6,379,000 to lawyers in the last three months of 2015).

On May 26th, NDM announced that it will seek to raise up to $15 million between now and June 16th - to be spent, yet again, largely on lawyers and lobbyists. Indeed, NDM has allocated:

  • C$4.4 million to litigation, and
  • C$2.6 million to lobbying, "education," and "outreach."

Equally noteworthy are the multi-million dollar bonuses that are not included in the company's planned allotment of the C$15 million. First is a C$13.2 million "success-contingent deferred legal obligation in the event that the Company achieves a court win or an out-of-court settlement, which, in either case, prevents any pre-emptive regulatory action by the EPA under Section 404(c) of the CWA." In plain English, this is an additional $13 million bonus to NDM's lawyers if mining is permitted.

Second is an "extraordinary bonus" (between $7.5 and $12.5 million USD) to Tom Collier, NDM's CEO and Senior Counselor to (and former D.C. partner at) the law firm of Steptoe & Johnson - one of NDM's outside law firms for hire, a prime recipient of significant legal fees so far. This bonus is also due if mining is approved - and apparently may be due to Collier even if he is terminated from the company with good cause.

While Northern Dynasty's lawyers appear to be doing just fine, the Pebble Mine project itself does not. Overwhelming opposition continues from Bristol Bay residents and a significant majority of other Alaskans, as well as from the Bristol Bay Native Corporation, Alaskan tribes, commercial and recreational fishermen, and a diverse coalition of other state, national, and international stakeholders, including NRDC and its 2.4 million members and activists.

It's only a matter of time, and the time is now - to stop the Pebble Mine.