Head of Contentious Alaska Mine Resigns Over Taped Comments

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The chief executive of the controversial Pebble mining project in southwestern Alaska abruptly resigned after the release of covertly taped comments he made boasting of his ties to state and federal leaders.

Tom Collier, who heads Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd.’s 100%-owned Pebble Limited Partnership unit, has submitted his resignation, the parent company said Wednesday in a statement.

Collier’s comments “embellished” both his and the Pebble Partnership’s relationships with elected officials, including Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy, and Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, Northern Dynasty said in the statement. “The comments were clearly offensive to these and other political, business and community leaders in the state.”

On Monday, Washington-based non-profit Environmental Investigation Agency released recordings of conversations between EIA investigators posing as investors and Collier as well as Northern Dynasty Chief Executive Officer Ron Thiessen. The so-called Pebble Tapes incensed critics who oppose the giant copper-and-gold project, which they argue would irreparably harm indigenous communities and one of the world’s largest sockeye salmon fishery.

A full evaluation of the project by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is nearing a conclusion. If allowed to proceed, the mine would be one of the largest producers of both copper and gold in the U.S., according to the company.

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