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Judge Revokes Rock Creek Mine Water Permit

Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation.

A state judge has revoked the water permit for a silver and copper mine proposed beneath a northwestern Montana wilderness area.

Judge Kathy Seeley said in a recent order that state officials did not adequately consider potential damage to nearby streams from Hecla Mining Company’s Rock Creek Mine.

Environmental groups represented by Earthjustice argued streams within the Cabinet Mountain Wilderness are so ecologically valuable that they deserve the greatest protections available by law.

Here's Earthjustice attorney Katherine O’Brien.

"Our understanding of the mining company’s plan is that they need to engage in this groundwater pumping in order to dewater their adit and develop the project. Based on their current plans it’s not clear how they go forward in a way that can comply with the law as Judge Seeley interpreted it."

Hecla spokesman Luke Russell says Seeley’s ruling would not impact planned exploratory work at the mine site.

Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation spokesman John Grassy says the agency will appeal.

Last month Judge Seeley rescinded a water right for a water bottling plant near Kalispell, saying the DNRC failed to meet its own minimum standards.

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