BlackRock Sells Out Holdings in Pebble Mine

Bloomberg report shows global investment leader sold all shares in Northern Dynasty Minerals, owner of the embattled mining project

If you’ve recently checked the “Security Owner Summary Review” for Northern Dynasty Minerals (NAK) on your Bloomberg Terminal, you may have noticed the listing of eleven institutional investors in Northern Dynasty that, as of December 31, 2018, had sold all of their shares in the company. Included among these investors is none other than BlackRock, the largest investment company in the world by assets under management.

This is yet another confirmation that the universally condemned Pebble Mine is going nowhere—an international pariah of a mining project proposed for construction literally in the headwaters of the greatest wild salmon fishery on the planet, in the watershed that feeds incomparable Bristol Bay in southwest Alaska. Last summer alone, the Bristol Bay fishery generated an astonishing 62 million fish, with an estimated annual revenue of $1.5 billion in revenue and tens of thousands of sustainable jobs.

Since 2011, all of the project’s major financial partners have backed away from the reckless scheme to develop a massive open pit copper and gold mine in a place like this. In 2011, Mitsubishi Corporation sold out; in 2013, Anglo American walked away from its estimated $600 million investment in the project; in 2014, Rio Tinto donated its stake to two Alaskan non-profits, who promptly sold the shares; and in 2018, First Quantum Minerals unexpectedly left the project after investing $37.5 million just months before.

All apparently abandoned the project based on their respective conclusion that better economic prospects exist elsewhere, with a partner other than Northern Dynasty.

In the case of BlackRock, the recent sell-off of its shares in Northern Dynasty is also consistent with the highly publicized views of its CEO Laurence Fink who, in January 2018, urged company executives and board members to ask questions like “[w]hat role do we play in the community? How are we managing our impact on the environment.” He invited their “leadership and clarity” not only on “their own investment returns, but also the prosperity and security of their fellow citizens.” Last April, NRDC raised with him directly the unique environmental, social, and financial risks associated with the Pebble Mine.

Whatever BlackRock’s reason, the disappearance in late 2018 of Northern Dynasty from the portfolios of this global investment leader is just the latest indication that Northern Dynasty and its universally condemned Pebble Mine are a bad investment. It’s a company and a project to be avoided whether you’re interested in sustainable investing for profit or, as in the case of Tiffany & Co., you believe that “there are certain places where mining should simply never occur. Alaska’s Bristol Bay is one such place.”

The people of Bristol Bay oppose the Pebble Mine in overwhelming numbers. Support them today to defend their families, their communities, their livelihood, and the greatest wild salmon fishery on Earth.

Channels Section of Kvichak River flowing between Lake Iliamna and Bristol Bay

Robert Glenn Ketchum

About the Authors

Joel Reynolds

Western Director, Senior Attorney, Marine Mammals, Oceans Division, Nature Program

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