Canadian Copper Junior Made Great Again by Trump

Canadian copper junior Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd. (TSX: NDM) has the rights to one of the world’s largest undeveloped copper and gold deposits

Financial Post | January 20, 2017: There’s one thing Donald Trump is already making great again: a small Canadian copper junior with rights to one of the world’s largest undeveloped copper and gold deposits.

Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd. (TSX: NDM) has more than tripled since the U.S. election to approach a four-year high this week amid speculation the incoming administration will allow the explorer’s long-stalled Pebble project in Alaska to move ahead. Last week, the Vancouver-based company drummed up $43 million in a secondary share offering to investors eager for a stake in a resource it estimates at more than 6 billion tons of ore.

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That’s quite a revival for Northern Dynasty, whose sole project had appeared all but dead only a year ago. After peaking at a market value of almost $2 billion in 2011, the company’s luck turned — it was abandoned by Anglo American Plc and Rio Tinto Group amid a commodity rout, and it was obstructed by the Environmental Protection Agency after the project had already burned through more than $550 million. Northern Dynasty’s latest quarterly results showed its cash holdings had dwindled to less than $8 million.

“On Friday, Trump gets inaugurated — that’s a good thing,” said John Tumazos, a Holmdel, New Jersey-based independent mining analyst, who owns Northern Dynasty shares and believes the EPA under Trump will reverse a 2014 move to prevent Pebble from obtaining a permit. Nomination hearings began Wednesday for Trump’s pick to head the agency, Scott Pruitt, a climate-change skeptic who has called for ” regulatory rollback.” That can’t happen soon enough for Northern Dynasty.

The company first began exploring the Pebble site in 2001 and discovered a deposit stunning in its scale. Each component on its own — measured, indicated and inferred resources of 81.5 billion pounds of copper, 107 million ounces of gold and 514 million ounces of silver — would be considered a major asset. Depending on the project’s plan, mining Pebble for 80 years would deplete only 55 percent of its known resources, Northern Dynasty Chief Executive Ronald Thiessen told investors in a speech last March. Thiessen declined to be interviewed, citing a packed schedule of investor meetings in Montreal, Toronto and New York.

In 2007, Thiessen took then-Alaska Governor Sarah Palin to London to help woo BHP Billiton Ltd., Rio Tinto and Anglo American to invest, according to last year’s speech. The latter two bit — Anglo American became a partner in the project, and Rio Tinto acquired a stake in Northern Dynasty.

But in 2013, Anglo American walked away after sinking more than US$500 million into the project, and Rio Tinto several months later gifted its 19.1 per cent stake in Northern Dynasty to local charities, including one opposed to the project.

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