What happened

Shares of Northern Dynasty Minerals (NYSEMKT:NAK) soared 36% early on Thursday, before settling back to a gain of about 12% as of 3 p.m. EST. The stock has experienced several sharp moves since the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers rejected the company's response in addressing environmental issues related to dredged materials and waste fluids for its Alaskan Pebble Mine project.

So what

Today's initial jump came after the company released its request for appeal (RFA) on the Pebble permitting decision. The company's Alaskan project was virtually killed late last year with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers decision. 

The RFA presented "some very compelling arguments" that the Army Corps' decision is "contrary to law," Northern Dynasty president and CEO Ron Thiessen said in a statement.

open pit mine at dusk with snow on the ground

Image source: Getty Images.

Now what

Earlier this month, Alaskan Gov. Mike Dunleavy's administration said it would formally appeal the Army Corps' denial of the federal permit for the project. The state has also officially submitted its RFA as the owner of land and sub-surface mineral resources at Pebble, the company said. 

The 92-page official RFA from the Pebble Limited Partnership (PLP) was sent on Jan. 19. The PLP argues in part that the alleged deficiencies could "easily" have been addressed if given the opportunity. However, it continues, the Alaskan district of the Army Corps "did not give PLP any opportunity to address the issues raised, nor did it explain why no such opportunity was provided."

An investment in Northern Dynasty hinges on the final Pebble Mine outcome. Control over that decision lies with the regulatory bodies, as well as management's appeal efforts. Today's publication of the response gave investors hope that there is still life left in this investment. 

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.