Canadian mineral exploration and development company Northern Dynasty Minerals (NYSEMKT:NAK) has approved an $80 million budget for 2013 to advance its Pebble project in Alaska.

Pebble is the largest undeveloped copper-gold-molybdenum deposit in the world, according to the company, with the potential to produce as much as 55 billion pounds of copper, 67 million ounces of gold, and 3.3 billion pounds of molybdenum over its near-80-year life. Since July 2007, and prior to today's announcement of funding, some $680 million has already been spent on developing the project. Northern Dynasty expects to initiate permitting under the National Environmental Policy Act before the end of the year.

Northern Dynasty CEO Ronald Thiessen was quoted as saying, "Following a very substantial pre-permitting planning program and years of comprehensive study, the Pebble Partnership is now nearing the final stages of completing its project description for the Pebble project."

The miner's partner on the Pebble project is Anglo American, which has invested approximately $500 million to advance engineering, environmental, and socioeconomic studies. Northern Dynasty has contributed $180 million so far.

The additional $80 million budget just approved by Northern Dynasty will pay for engineering studies, continued environmental monitoring, financing of site investigations, and enhanced outreach to the public. The partners will release a national economic impact study along with workforce development plans and project planning updates.

Pebble is located 200 miles southwest of Anchorage on state land designated for mineral exploration and development some 1,000 feet above sea level and 65 miles from tidewater on Cook Inlet.

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