The US Federal District Court for Alaska has granted Northern Dynasty Minerals’ Pebble Limited Partnership’s (PLP) request for a preliminary injunction in its litigation against the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The EPA says that the company’s proposed Bristol Bay copper-gold mine project in Alaska would violate the US Clean Water Act.
The agency stated that the mine would endanger sockeye salmon by releasing dredged or fill material into waters.
Pebble has countered saying that the mine would generate 15,000 jobs and contribute $64bn to the US economy, according to Bloomberg.
Pebble Partnership CEO Tom Collier said: “Although the decision is a procedural victory and does not resolve our claims that EPA pursued a biased and predetermined 404c veto initiative against Pebble by not complying with the requirements of the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA), the decision is important for several reasons.
“Specifically, the court has granted a preliminary injunction that blocks EPA from taking any further steps in the 404c regulatory process it has initiated at Pebble before Judge Holland is able to issue a final decision on the merits of our FACA case.”
PLP alleges that, based on the documents disclosed by the EPA in response to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, the EPA colluded with environmental activists to support a predetermined result before carrying out scientific studies.
US District Judge H Russel Holland has asked PLP to submit a revised complaint and work with the EPA regarding pre-trial procedures, the agency reported.
US-based trout and salmon conservation organisation Trout Unlimited’s Alaska programme manager Tim Bristol said: “Out of an abundance of caution, the judge overseeing Pebble’s lawsuit is asking for more time to fully review the case.
“It is telling that he found most of the company’s arguments illegitimate and unfounded, even going so far as to suggest Pebble should refile its original motion.”
PLP’s Pebble project is located 200 miles south-west of Anchorage on state land designated for mineral exploration and development.
It aims to develop a globally significant copper, gold and molybdenum deposit in south-west Alaska into a long-life mine.
The project is situated in a region of rolling tundra about 1,000ft above sea-level, 65 miles from tidewater on Cook Inlet.