UPDATE 1-Miner Anglo drops out of Pebble project in Alaska

Mon Sep 16, 2013 10:02am EDT
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* Comes after Anglo pledged to halve potential mine pipeline

* Leaves Northern Dynasty alone to develop project

* Pebble rich in copper, gold; faces environment challenges

* Northern Dynasty shares plunge, Anglo up 1 pct (Updates with detail on Northern Dynasty shares, background)

By Clara Ferreira-Marques and Julie Gordon

LONDON/TORONTO, Sept 16 (Reuters) - Mining group Anglo American has pulled out of the Pebble copper-gold project in Alaska, less than two months after pledging to halve a $17 billion pipeline of potential mines and bring down the cost of keeping future options open.

The decision, announced on Monday, leaves junior exploration company Northern Dynasty to push ahead alone with the plan to develop one of the largest copper-gold deposits in the world - but also a hugely environmentally challenging project that has already been studied for almost three decades.

Anglo's decision is unlikely to come as a shock to investors, but confirms new chief executive Mark Cutifani's ambition of tackling lagging returns and what he called in July a "constipated" pipeline of future mines.

He promised then to cut spending and slash costs like the annual $950 million spent keeping afloat early stage projects like Pebble. That number alone will come down by a third, the company said at that time.   Continued...