gina mccarthy credit eugene kim

Gina McCarthy, EPA Administrator. Credit Eugene Kim/Flickr

Northern Dynasty (NDM-T) hit back against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in its feud with the environmental regulator over Pebble project permitting.

Late yesterday the EPA’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) released a report clearing the EPA of misconduct in making a pre-emptive move to stymie environmental permitting at the Alaska gold/base metals deposit in 2014.

Responding to the report, Northern Dynasty said the OIG report “whitewashes serious bias” at the EPA.

The OIG report findings are at odds with conclusions of a separate report, commissioned by the Pebble Limited Partnership, that alleges the EPA pre-judged the mining project improperly.

The fight over Pebble permitting – long opposed by environmental groups in the U.S. – is headed to trial as several congressional committees investigate the EPA.

Pebble is a massive deposit estimated to contain 57 billion pounds copper, 70 million ounces gold, 3.4 billion pounds molybdenum and 344 million ounces silver in indicated resources and about half that score in inferred resources.

Investment in the company is considered a bet on resolution or settlement of the EPA-Pebble project impasse.

In this, late last year mining financiers Frank Giustra and Gordon Keep added their names to the list of backers betting on success for Northern Dynasty. They invested in the company through a deal between Northern Dynasty, which owns 100% of the Pebble deposit, and the duo’s Cannon Point Resources, which Northern Dynasty acquired.

At the time, the deal saw Cannon Point shareholders take an 8% stake in Northern Dynasty.

Likewise the recent acquisition of Mission Gold, announced late last year, brought aboard heavyweight shareholders such as Geoff London, Lukas Lundin and Dave Lowell.

The acquisition closed December 24 on the heels of a $5.2 million financing comprising 12.6 million shares @ $0.412/share.

Northern Dynasty $NDM – Marketcap: $89m – Recent price: $0.40/share


Taseko Mines (TKO-T) is facing a shareholder revolt.

Overnight a group called Raging River Capital, which is said to own about 5% of Taseko, detailed a laundry lists of issues it has with Taseko management and requisitioned a meeting of shareholders sometime in the next four months.

Taseko has responded, though so far only to say that it received the demands and would have a special committee review them and formulate a response.

The core demand is for a shareholder vote on four Raging River nominations it wants on Taseko’s board of directors. If Raging River got its way they are to either replace three current directors (and add one seat) or, if not that, be added to the existing board, bulking up Taseko board seats to 12. Raging River proposes Paul Blythe, founder of Quadra, Randy Davenport, ex-President of CST Marcobre, Henry Park, from Vulcan Mining, and Mark Radzik, co-founder of Granite Creek Partners.

Raging River says it takes issue with Taseko’s affiliation with Hunter Dickinson (HDI) and alleges that “Taseko’s directors affiliated with Hunter Dickinson Inc. are conflicted” and have pushed “Taseko into multiple related-party transactions with no proven upside to shareholder value.”

It also complains of management and service fees HDI gets from Taseko, which Raging River calls “generous,” and HDI-shared officers including company CEO Russell Hallbauer. It sees the tight Taseko-HDI relationship as being at odds with HDI’s 3% ownership in Taseko.

Ultimately Raging River wants Taseko to conduct a strategic review and consider selling assets.

While Taseko has yet to respond to Raging River’s demands specifically, there’s a good chance it will fight back.

Hallbauer, as Taseko CEO, has proven to take a hard line against opposition. Most notably Hallbauer pulled no punches in the fight over the New Prosperity gold-copper project that was not long ago denied federal environmental approval in a controversial decision.

Taseko Mines $TKO – Marketcap: $81 million – Recent price: $0.37/share

Disclosure: Author owns no shares in companies mentioned. A team member owns shares in NDM.