One subplot of the Pebble Mine parent company’s losing battle to ever construct the controversial Bristol Bay mine project also included a shareholder’s lawsuit back in 2020 arguing that the parent company Northern Dynasty Minerals duped shareholders. Northern Dynasty has now settled with those shareholders for over $6 million paid off in what had become a class-action suit.
First up: Some details from the Alaska Beacon:
The court filings name only a few individual investors, but the lawsuit has become a class-action claim with “likely hundreds, if not thousands of potential Settlement Class Members” to share in the payment, said the settlement memorandum filed on Wednesday. If the court approves the agreement and certifies the class, others who owned Northern Dynasty securities between Dec. 21, 2017 and Nov. 25, 2020 could be eligible for payment from the settlement total, according to the memorandum.
At issue were revelations in recorded conversations released in 2020 that became known as the Pebble Tapes. In those conversations, which were recorded by an environmental organization working undercover, Northern Dynasty Chief Executive Officer Ron Thiessen and Tom Collier, then the Pebble Limited Partnership CEO, described a strategy of getting a relatively small mine plan through the permitting process and following up with a massive expansion. Additionally, the two men touted political connections that they said would ease permitting.
“When the truth emerged through a series of corrective disclosures and materializations of risks that the Pebble Project would not receive a permit, Northern Dynasty’s stock went into a tailspin, wiping out hundreds of millions of dollars in market capitalization and injuring hundreds of thousands of investors,” said the amended complaint filed in 2021 in the consolidated case.
And here’s some reaction in a statement from the Bristol Bay Defense Fund:
Bristol Bay Defense Fund Responds to Northern Dynasty Minerals Settlement of Lawsuit for Grossly Misleading Pebble Mine Investors
(Dillingham, Alaska) — Last week, Northern Dynasty Minerals—the company behind the recently vetoed Pebble Mine—agreed to pay nearly $6.4 million to a group of investors who claimed they were misled about the size and scope of the proposed mining project in Bristol Bay, Alaska.
This settlement strongly indicates that Northern Dynasty Minerals was not telling the truth about the size and duration of the proposed project in their permitting mine plan, which resulted in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers conducting an environmental review of a mine one-tenth the size of the project the company actually intended to build and operate.
In response, the Bristol Bay Defense Fund issued the following statement:
“This settlement demonstrates yet again how untrustworthy Northern Dynasty Minerals is and always will be. Not only did they mislead investors, they lied to the people of Bristol Bay, and since they aren’t using any corporate funds for this settlement, the Biden administration should order them to remediate the parts of the watershed they damaged and left behind polluted for the community to clean up.
Northern Dynasty acted without any regard for the Tribes, commercial and sport fishers, or members of the Bristol Bay community who would be the most gravely impacted by their reckless and devious mining proposal. Our elected officials must recognize the duplicity of Northern Dynasty and the recklessness of their project, and pass watershed-wide protections to protect all of Bristol Bay, our salmon and our way of life, forever.”
Earlier this year, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued 404(c) Clean Water Act protections that vetoed the Pebble Mine due to the adverse risks posed to Bristol Bay’s waters and the surrounding ecosystem.
To address the remaining threats in the fight to protect Bristol Bay, the Bristol Bay Defense Fund just launched our new campaign, “Bristol Bay Forever,” in an effort to secure permanent protections for the entire Bristol Bay watershed, and nothing less.
The Bristol Bay Defense Fund is a broad coalition of local, state and national groups representing Bristol Bay Tribes, commercial fishermen, businesses, and conservation nonprofit organizations including the United Tribes of Bristol Bay, Commercial Fishermen for Bristol Bay, Businesses for Bristol Bay, SalmonState, Wild Salmon Center, Native American Rights Fund, and Natural Resources Defense Council.