Montana Public Radio

mining

Montana Issues Permit For Black Butte Copper Mine Project

Aug 17, 2020

The State of Montana this week greenlit the first phase of construction of an underground copper mine in the central part of the state.

The Montana Department of Environmental Quality on Aug. 14 issued Tintina Montana, Inc. a permit to begin surface preparation for the proposed 311 acre Black Butte Copper Mine north of White Sulphur Springs.

DEQ spokesperson Rebecca Harbage says the permit allows the company to get started in the area.

"It doesn’t involve drilling into the ground. It’s preparation of the surface area itself," Harbage said.

Geology student studying the limestone near Farlin, MT.
UM Western

Last summer I was helping teach a geology field camp near Dillon. On our way back to the Birch Creek Outdoor Education Center each day, after long hours in the August sun spent identifying and mapping incredible exposures of rock, we would drive past a few crumbling cabins beneath an unweathered cliff face footed by large piles of scree.

This was once the town of Farlin – a long-abandoned copper mining camp at the base of the Pioneer Mountains. Shortly after the dawn of the 20th century, it was home to hundreds of men, women, and children. Inextricable from the experience of Montana, ghost towns like this one now dot the landscape they once extracted.

The Spring Creek Mine near Decker, Montana
Google maps

A coal company plans to rehire 73 employees who've been out of work at a Montana mine since April. The workers will be able to return to Spring Creek Mine on Aug. 3, according to a Monday announcement by the Navajo Transitional Energy Company.

Montana Sets Reclamation Plan For Mine Outside Helena

Jul 24, 2020

The State of Montana finalized a reclamation plan for a mine in western Montana on July 24.

The Montana Department of Environmental Quality issued a final decision that will include the permanent diversion of Clancy Creek away from the eroding edges of Montana Tunnel Mining’s inactive mine south of Helena.

Tunnels Mining installed a pipe to temporarily divert Clancy Creek roughly seven years ago. DEQ Mining Bureau Chief Dan Walsh says that’s when part of the pit wall collapsed.

“It put the Clancy Creek channel in danger of going directly into the pit," he said.

A coal mining company that works in Montana filed a request in May for a judicial review of a recently changed rule for power plant air emissions standards. A Montana environmental group filed a motion to intervene this past week.

Recently, we let the cat out of the bag and told you that Butte’s Superfund parties reached a very big deal; one that will clean up the Mining City forever. That sounds like good news, and I hope it is. But as someone who lives right in the heart of a Superfund megasite, lately I’ve been experiencing some cognitive dissonance.

During his reign, President Trump has radically transformed the Environmental Protection Agency. I haven’t known how to square the EPA's cheerleading on Superfund with the Trump Administration’s overall track record on the environment, and whether all the action we’re seeing in Butte, Montana is the Superfund exception, or the rule.

USDA Sec. Sonny Perdue (center) in Missoula to announce new USFS priorities June 12, 2020. Behind him: Chuck Roady, GM of F.H. Stoltze, Rep. Gianforte, USDA Undersecretary James Hubbard, Ravalli County Commissioner Greg Chilcott, RMEF Pres. Kyle Weaver
Edward O'Brien / Montana Public Radio

*UPDATED 06/13 

The U.S. Agriculture Secretary visited Missoula Friday to announce a blueprint to prioritize work for the U.S Forest Service.

Supporters say it will modernize the agency and cut unnecessary red tape. Opponents, however, counter it will undermine the nation’s laws aimed at protecting the environment.

Black Butte Copper Project, project facilities site plan.
Montana DEQ

Conservation groups want a Montana court to cancel the approval of the long-disputed Black Butte copper mine, saying it would pollute a tributary of the Smith River, one of the state's most popular recreational rivers.

The moratorium on major new coal leases on federal land that the Obama administration announced today, is either long-overdue or the latest offensive in the ongoing war on coal. That depends on whom you ask.
BLM

A judge threw out a lawsuit Friday from a coalition of states, environmental groups and American Indians seeking to revive an Obama-era moratorium against U.S. government coal sales on public lands in the West.

U.S. District Judge Brian Morris said President Donald Trump's administration had fixed its initial failure to consider the environmental impacts of ending the moratorium.

The state of Montana released its draft environmental assessment for a waste disposal facility expansion at a hardrock mine in south central Montana and now seeks public comment.

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