Montana Public Radio

copper

The Parrot Tailings removal project is underway in Butte. September 2018.
Nora Saks

Near Butte’s Civic Center, a massive construction project is going on across the street, in the heart of town. Mammoth excavators gouge out a colossal hole in the ground. Jumbo haul trucks whisk 70 ton loads of chewed-up earth away on repeat.

Anaconda copper smelter.
Keith Ewing (CC-BY-NC-2) / Flickr

A federal agency is offering free testing for lead in blood and arsenic in urine for Anaconda residents next weekend.

A century of copper smelting left soils in the Anaconda area contaminated with heavy metals, so researchers are asking: “Are exposures to arsenic and lead at levels currently that could adversely affect people’s health?”

Public tours of the Anaconda Smelter Stack are being offered to celebrate the stack's 100th anniversary. August 9, 2018.
Nora Saks

If you’ve ever driven through Southwest Montana on I-90, you’ve probably noticed the lone smoke stack standing sentinel near Anaconda. That’s the iconic Anaconda Smelter Stack - one of the tallest free-standing masonry structures in the world.

For over a century, the smelter processed copper ore from Butte, and the stack belched thick smoke out over the valley. The public has been forbidden from visiting it for nearly four decades. But this year, for it’s 100th anniversary, tours of the stack are being offered. I hopped on one Thursday.

Dalit Guscio holds a two-month old osprey chick and prepares to take blood and feather samples.
Maxine Speier / MTPR

It’s been a bad year for osprey after record flooding in some parts of Northwest Montana. That’s according to the scientists and educators with the Montana Osprey Project who have been studying osprey chicks in the Clark Fork watershed for more than a decade.

David Dorian, an environmental health specialist with ATSDR, discusses a new exposure investigation at a public meeting at Anaconda High School. July 11, 2018.
Nora Saks

A federal public health agency is starting a new investigation to find out if contaminants left behind from a century of copper smelting in Anaconda still pose a risk to human health.

The study was announced Wednesday at Anaconda High School in front of a crowd of about 40 residents, and will be trying to answer the question, "Are exposures to arsenic and lead at levels currently that could adversely affect people’s health?"

Alan Kirk, mine permitting manager, and Bob Jacko, vice president of operations for Tintina show plans for the Black Butte Mine in July 2015.
Steve Jess

An environmental group is raising the alarm because a central Montana mining project is now in the hands of offshore owners — owners who, they say, won’t care about protecting Montana’s environment as much as Montanans do.

Bull trout
flickr/USFWS Headquarters

A copper and silver mine for northwest Montana appears one step closer to approval and this worries Mary Costello.

Alan Kirk, mine permitting manager, and Bob Jacko, vice president of operations for Tintina show plans for the Black Butte Mine in July 2015.
Steve Jess

About 50 miles east of Helena, in White Sulphur Springs, residents are weighing the benefits that a new copper mine could bring to their community: about 200 new jobs along with millions of dollars to spur business growth. Opponents of the mine say Montana risks losing something even more valuable, one of its last unspoiled rivers.

Emigrant Peak, near a proposed mine exploration site.
Richard Reeve (CC-BY-SA-2)

Environmentalists say a Canadian company's request to explore for gold and other elements south of Livingston puts the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem at risk.

Lucky Minerals Incorporated wants to explore a six square-mile area for copper, molybdenum and gold in Emigrant Gulch in the Custer Gallatin National Forest and on private land nearby.

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