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Northern Dynasty shares dive on speculation Trump may block Pebble Mine

Credit: REUTERS/ERIN SCOTT

Shares of Canadian miner Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd lost more than a third of their value on Monday as speculation mounted that U.S. President Donald Trump will block the company's proposed Pebble Mine in Alaska out of concern for the state's salmon fishing industry.

Adds details on permitting process, ad campaign

Aug 24 (Reuters) - Shares of Canadian miner Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd NDM.TONAK.N lost more than a third of their value on Monday as speculation mounted that U.S. President Donald Trump will block the company's proposed Pebble Mine in Alaska out of concern for the state's salmon fishing industry.

Any rejection or delay by Trump, who is locked in a fierce re-election battle with former Vice President Joe Biden, who is opposed to the mine, could significantly halt or even prevent the copper and gold project from being constructed.

Trump's administration last month had moved closer to approving the mine's permit, reversing a decision from former President Barack Obama.

But a prominent group of Republicans, including Trump's son, Donald Trump Jr., and Fox News host Tucker Carlson, have publicly voiced opposition.

"With the Pebble Mine, there's no way you could clean up the damage. The fish would be gone forever," said Andrew Sabin, a metals magnate and conservationist who said he has privately lobbied Trump against the mine.

Vancouver-based Northern Dynasty on Saturday denied a media report from Politico that said Trump planned to block Pebble, but similar reports from Bloomberg and the Washington Post added to the speculation.

The company on Monday launched an advertising campaign targeting Trump and his administration officials to coincide with the first day of the Republican National Convention.

Rejecting the Pebble Mine after extensive review by federal, state and local regulators would politicize the permitting process and slow the U.S. economic recovery, Northern Dynasty said.

The White House on Monday referred all requests for comment to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which could not immediately be reached for comment. On Friday, the Corps declined to comment, citing the ongoing review process.

The specter of prominent Republicans openly opposing a project that could help create U.S. jobs rankled some.

"I am confused by Trump's son or the other GOP voices over the last several weeks expressing doubts about the project, because I think the important priority of the Trump administration is job creation and economic growth," said John Tumazos, an analyst who covers Northern Dynasty at Very Independent Research.

U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski, an Alaska Republican and powerful chair of the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee, has yet to say whether she supports the mine.

"Adverse impacts to Alaska's world-class salmon fishery and to the ecosystem of Bristol Bay are unacceptable," Murkowski said.

Tom Collier, who runs the Northern Dynasty unit overseeing the mine, is set to receive a $12.5 million bonus if the mine receives necessary permits, according to regulatory filings.

(Reporting by Jeff Lewis, Yereth Rosen and Ernest Scheyder; Editing by Andrea Ricci and Richard Chang)

((ernest.scheyder@thomsonreuters.com; Twitter: @ErnestScheyder; +1-713-210-8512; Reuters Messaging: ernest.scheyder.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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