May 22 Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd
said on Thursday it has taken the U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency to court for seeking to block development of the Pebble
copper-gold project in Alaska before the Canadian company could
even apply for a permit.
Northern Dynasty argued in a filing to the U.S. District
Court for Alaska that the EPA exceeded its authority under the
Clean Water Act in February, when the regulator initiated a
rarely-used process under the Clean Water Act to protect
Alaska's salmon fishery from the impact of the project.
The EPA said at the time that the mine could cause
irreversible harm to the fishery.
Northern Dynasty slammed the EPA for acting before the
company applied for a permit or completed a normal environmental
review. On Thursday, Northern Dynasty said the EPA can veto some
permits, but cannot act before a company actually seeks a
permit. Doing so would violate the state of Alaska's legal right
to develop mineral resources, it said.
Opponents have long said the environmental risks of the
Pebble project outweigh the benefits, citing the potential for
widespread damage if polluted water were to enter streams in the
region. Northern Dynasty says the mine could be developed
safely, and would boost Alaska's economy with some 1,000 jobs
through its operating life.
In September, global miner Anglo American Plc pulled
out of the project, and in April Rio Tinto said it would
give its 19.1 percent stake in Northern Dynasty to charity.
The company's shares, down more than a third this year to
date, rose 6 percent on Thursday to 90 Canadian cents a share.
An EPA spokeswoman declined to comment on the lawsuit.
(Reporting by Allison Martell in Toronto)