Environmental Protection

Rio Tinto Donating Shares of Pebble Mine Project to Charities

The company announced it is dividing its 19.1 percent share of Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd. between the Alaska Community Foundation and the Bristol Bay Native Corporation Education Foundation, saying in the announcement that "we are ensuring that Alaskans will have a say in Pebble's future development and that any economic benefit supports Alaska's ability to attract investment that creates jobs."

London-based mining company Rio Tinto announced April 7 that it is withdrawing from the Pebble Mine project, bringing cheers and congratulatory messages from environmental organizations opposing the plan to develop an open pit gold, copper, and molybdenum mine in southwestern Alaska. Rio Tinto will divide its 19.1 percent share of Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd. between the Alaska Community Foundation and the Bristol Bay Native Corporation Education Foundation, saying in the announcement that "we are ensuring that Alaskans will have a say in Pebble's future development and that any economic benefit supports Alaska's ability to attract investment that creates jobs."

"Rio Tinto’s donation of its interest in the Pebble Mine to local charities is the latest major blow to the project -- and it is very good news for the people of Bristol Bay. By abandoning its 19.1 percent interest in the Pebble Mine, the company has confirmed that the risks of the project are too great and the opposition of the region's residents too strong," said Joel Reynolds, Western director of the Natural Resources Defense Council. "Rio Tinto's decision is the latest demonstration that the Pebble Mine is economically and environmentally infeasible, even for the largest mining companies in the world. The company's decision to divest is a vindication of its stated commitment to sustainability in the region and the health, safety, and cultural heritage of the people of Bristol Bay, and its withdrawal serves the interests of the company's shareholders."

Mitsubishi Corporation and Anglo American also have left the project, which is now wholly owned by Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd., a mining company based in Vancouver, Canada. "We are pleased that Rio Tinto's interest in Northern Dynasty will provide meaningful, long-term economic contributions to charitable organizations in Alaska that are dedicated to providing educational opportunities for young people, and to preserving culture and traditional ways of life," Northern Dynasty President & CEO Ron Thiessen said in a statement posted on the company's website. "We look forward to meeting with the leadership of the Alaska Community Foundation and Bristol Bay Native Corporation Education Foundation in the days ahead to better understand their long-term goals and aspirations and how their ownership interest in Northern Dynasty and the Pebble Project can make the greatest possible contribution to the people and communities they serve."

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