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State Issues Draft Operating Permit For Black Butte Mine In Central Montana

State officials have issued a draft operating permit for an underground copper mine in central Montana that opponents worry could harm one of the state's most popular fly-fishing destinations.

Kristi Ponozzo is the Public Policy Director with the Montana Department of Environmental

"We did issue a detailed compliance document that lays out how the Black Butte Copper Project will comply with state law. That starts the time clock for us to begin the Montana Environmental Policy Act Review of the project."

Ponozzo says the environmental impact statement discloses the potential impacts of the project, and is an opportunity for the public to become involved through those public comment periods.    

Tintina Resources said today that a third-party contractor will be hired to study environmental impacts of the Black Butte mine near White Sulphur Springs. Under state law the review of the project must be done within one year.

The company says the mine would employ about 240 people and remove 1.3 million tons of rock annually.

The Montana Department of Environmental Quality says the project needs additional air and water quality permits.

Conservation groups are concerned about potential pollution into a tributary of the Smith River.

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