I am not a prognosticator of world events or political outcomings, in fact, I have shied away from political controversy altogether. What happens in Washington, D.C. has very little effect on me as an individual except for my taxes and health insurance. However, on a global scale, both the president and Congress have a great impact on our environment.
As Donald J. Trump takes office as the 45th President of the United States, he also inherits the power to change the destinies of many corporations. One such company is Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd.
Northern Dynasty, for those of you unfamiliar, is a company that owns the rights to the Pebble Mine, the largest, untouched, gold and copper deposit in the world. However, one problem exists, the deposit is located in Alaska and next to Bristol Bay, a watershed estuary and the most valuable salmon fishery in the northwest.
Over the last several years, Northern Dynasty has applied for and been refused the rights to develop the Pebble Mine due to its proximity to this pristine ecological sanctuary. Mining, as we all know, is a dirty business and runoff from the tailings and the cyanide used to leach gold, mobilizes arsenic and other metals that in concentration could quickly pollute and kill the salmon that return to Bristol Bay each year to spawn.
The Obama administration through the EPA has essentially barred Northern Dynasty from permitting the construction of its Pebble Mine. However, as president-elect, Trump and his transition team have met with corporate officers of Northern Dynasty. Trump, during his campaign, has stated that the EPA has overstepped its authority in many areas and has pledged to roll back regulations.
And now, as Donald Trump takes office, Northern Dynasty has been sending out advertisements promoting “Trump’s Gold.” Northern Dynasty, which had been trading at around fifty cents per share has suddenly risen to close to one dollar a share. Estimates are, that if Northern Dynasty receives preliminary approval to start the permitting process to open their mine, that their stock will skyrocket.
However, the permitting process is just the beginning. And, even if the mine is permitted under the Trump administration, it takes millions of dollars and nearly four years to build the infrastructure needed to start a mining operation.
So here is the question for all of you “business experts.” If you had, for many years, been fighting environmental regulations and activists, only to get a reprieve from someone that quite possibly would only be in office for just four years, would you risk those millions to actually build your mine? Or, would you build your kitty, hold it in reserve and run with the profits when the next administration shuts you down.
In fact, why would power companies, coal mining companies, or any other EPA regulated company revert to previous non-ecological operations on the whim of a single president? The public backlash alone could be detrimental.
Please note, at the beginning of this article; I said that “I am not a prognosticator.” However, I am a pragmatist and had lived in Las Vegas long enough to know that when a table grows cold for one person, it grows hot for another. But eventually, the table will flip again, and those that were losers and who are still in the game will again become winners.
Despite Donald Trump’s denial of climate change, the majority of scientist, world leaders, and the general public agrees that we need to band together to save our planet.
I predict that Trump’s legacy will only be four short years and then sanity will once again take over. The next president, just as Trump will lessen environmental regulations, has the power to reinforce stricter environmental regulations and therefore bring companies back to today’s compliance standards, if not to an even stricter standard.
A few companies may see the inauguration of Trump as an opportunity to relax their environmental protection systems and reap the benefits of not having those overhead expenses. Of course, they will not pass along those savings to their customers or even divulge that they have relaxed their commitment to the environment. They simply, will take their money, thank Trump, and prepare for the time when they, once again, must toe the environmental line.
As for the Pebble Mine, if you invest, take your profits early and get out before the Bristol Bay tide begins to change. Trump’s Gold, is certainly a fool’s gold.