Rio Tinto Considers Pulling Out Of Pebble Mine

Another investor in the proposed Pebble Mine says it may back out.

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Rio Tinto announced today that it will perform a strategic review of its investment in the controversial gold and copper mine in the Bristol Bay region and that the review will consider divestment.

Rio Tinto holds about 19 percent of Northern Dynasty, which became the sole owner of the project after mining conglomerate Anglo American pulled out in September.

Northern Dynasty CEO Ron Thiesson told investors in a conference call this morning the announcement came as a complete surprise and that he would be seeking new investors in early 2014.

Pebble Partnership CEO John Shively declined to comment for this story.

Two of Rio Tinto’s large investors, the chief financial officers of New York City and the state of California, have been pressing Rio Tinto to reconsider its Pebble investment. They cited, among other reasons, the reputation risk to any company associated with the mine.

Pebble opponents say the project could destroy the Bristol Bay salmon fisheries and devastate the communities in the region.

Rio Tinto says it will consider Pebble’s fit with its investment strategy and its strategy for copper projects elsewhere.

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Liz Ruskin covers Alaska’s congressional delegation, federal agency decisions that shape life in the 49th state, money in politics and elections. She has deep roots in Alaska and this is her third stint in Washington, a city she has grown to love.

She was born in Anchorage and is a West High graduate. She studied political science at the University of Washington and has an M.A. in journalism from the University of Missouri in Columbia. During graduate school, she moved to Washington to intern as a D.C. correspondent. But for her first real journalism job, she moved back to Alaska to work at the Homer News. She was there for three years before taking a job at the Anchorage Daily News. Over the course of nine years in Anchorage, she covered City Hall, courts, state politics, and Native and rural affairs.

Then, in April 2001, she moved back to Washington to work in McClatchy Newspaper’s D.C. bureau as a correspondent for the Anchorage paper. She stayed in the position for five years.

She took a year off for a journalism fellowship at the University of Colorado in Boulder, then freelanced for several years from the U.K. and Japan, in print and radio.

When a vacancy occurred in APRN’s one-person Washington bureau, she jumped at the opportunity. Liz has been APRN’s Washington, D.C. correspondent since October 2013.

lruskin (at) alaskapublic (dot) org  | About Liz