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Pebble Budget Increased to US $70 Million for 2009

Thursday, September 24th, 2009

Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd. (TSX: NDM; NYSE AMEX: NAK) announces that the Pebble Limited Partnership (“PLP” or the “Pebble Partnership”) Board of Directors has approved an additional US $10.1 million budget to advance the Pebble Project in 2009.
In March 2009, Northern Dynasty and PLP announced a US $59 million budget and work program to advance the Pebble Project through engineering studies, ongoing geological investigations, environmental baseline studies and data compilation, as well as socio-community initiatives – such as workforce and business development, stakeholder engagement and community investment. The combined $70 million to be expended this year will further characterize the Pebble deposit and position the Pebble Partnership to finalize a Prefeasibility Study and prepare for project permitting under NEPA (the National Environmental Policy Act) in 2010.
“With Pebble, we have one of the world’s most significant copper-gold-molybdenum deposits located in a region with favourable terrain and a stable and predictable regulatory environment,” said Northern Dynasty President CEO Ron Thiessen. “The focus of PLP’s efforts this year is to very deliberately advance engineering and related studies in such a way that we can bring forward the optimal mine development plan for the consideration of state and federal regulators and the citizens of Alaska.”
Thiessen said the $70 million invested at Pebble in 2009 reflects the Pebble Partnership’s commitment to the Pebble Project, as well as its commitment to advance the project in a way that ensures permitting success in future.
The Pebble Partnership was established in July 2007 as a 50:50 partnership between a wholly-owned affiliate of Northern Dynasty and a wholly-owned subsidiary of Anglo American plc. To retain its 50% interest, Anglo American is required to continue its staged investment of US $1.425 to $1.5 billion to advance the Pebble Project toward permitting and operations – including funding all 2009 authorized expenditures. Northern Dynasty and Anglo American have equal representation on the PLP Board of Directors.
Program activities at the Pebble Project in 2009 include:-
– engineering studies toward the completion of a Prefeasibility Study;
– geological investigations to further define the Pebble deposit andsupport project engineering;
– an environmental study program to continue baseline data collectionin key areas and to compile an Environmental Baseline Document inpreparation for project permitting;
– a public affairs program to engage communities and projectstakeholders, and to advance initiatives in the areas of workforcedevelopment, business development, community investment and publiceducation.
“Through our partnership with Anglo American, the Pebble Project is benefitting from the engineering, environmental and community development expertise of one of the world’s largest and most progressive mine developers,” Thiessen said. “We have every confidence that the Pebble Partnership team will propose a project development plan that will earn the support of regulators and project stakeholders.”
By the end of the year, some US $430 million will have been invested in the Pebble Project – including approximately US $250 million expended by Anglo American since acquiring its interest in 2007.
With Anglo American’s required staged investment to retain its 50% interest in the Pebble Project, Northern Dynasty does not expect to face any significant financial commitments until permitting is complete and project construction is underway. The company has a favorable cash position, with reserves of US $41.8 million, and a shareholder base that includes two of the largest mining and metals companies in the world. Rio Tinto owns 19.8% of Northern Dynasty shares; Mitsubishi Corp. owns 11%.
The Pebble Project is located on state land in southwest Alaska designated for mineral exploration and development. It is approximately 1,000 feet above sea-level, 65 miles from tidewater on Cook Inlet and presents favourable conditions for successful mine site and infrastructure development.
Based on a mineral resource estimate announced in December 2008, the Pebble deposit is the most extensive, undeveloped porphyry system in the world. At a 0.30% copper equivalent (CuEQ)(1) cut-off, the Pebble deposit comprises:
– 5.1 billion tonnes of Measured and Indicated Mineral Resourcesgrading 0.77% CuEQ, containing 48 billion pounds of copper, 57million ounces of gold, and 2.9 billion pounds of molybdenum; plus
– 4.0 billion tonnes of Inferred Mineral Resources grading 0.55% CuEQ,containing 24 billion pounds of copper, 37 million ounces of gold and1.9 billion pounds of molybdenum.
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