MTPR

Montana Resources

Treated water originating from the Berkeley Pit is discharged into Silver Bow Creek via a 24 inch buried pipe behind these rocks and manhole, Sept. 30, 2019.
Nora Saks / Montana Public Radio

This week, for the first time ever, once toxic water from the Berkeley Pit, the abandoned open pit copper mine in Butte, is being treated and released into the headwaters of the Clark Fork River.

Tim Hilmo (L), Ron Halsey (M) and Greg Frisch (R) with Atlantic Richfield company stand in front of the point where treated water originating in the Berkeley Pit is being discharged into Silver Bow Creek in Butte. September 30, 2019.
Nora Saks / Montana Public Radio

For the first time ever, once-toxic water from the Berkeley Pit, Butte’s abandoned open pit copper mine, is being pumped, treated and discharged into Silver Bow Creek.

Yankee Doodle Tailings Impoundment. Butte, MT. Oct. 3, 2018.
Nora Saks / Montana Public Radio

Butte mining company Montana Resources now has the go-ahead from state officials to expand its waste storage facility northeast of town and the Berkeley Pit.

The Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) issued its final decision Friday allowing the copper mining company to build the Yankee Doodle Tailings Impoundment 50 feet higher.

Yankee Doodle Tailings Impoundment. Butte, MT. Oct. 3, 2018.
Nora Saks / Montana Public Radio

Copper mining company Montana Resources is now one step away from receiving approval from state regulators to expand its permanent mine tailings storage facility in Butte.

Since 1986, Montana Resources (MR) has been sending the slurry of waste from its open pit copper and molybdenum mine in Butte up to the Yankee Doodle Tailings Impoundment, which sits uphill and northeast of the Berkeley Pit.

AR's operations manager, Ron Halsey, stands in front of the intake pipe that siphons water originating indirectly from the Berkeley Pit into this new water polishing plant. August 6, 2019.
Nora Saks / Montana Public Radio

37 years ago, Atlantic Richfield abandoned an open pit copper mine in Butte and allowed it to flood with toxic mine water. Now, the company estimates they’re one month away from proving they’re in control of the Berkeley Pit. MTPR's Nora Saks got a sneak peek of their new water treatment facility and has more.

Nora Saks

The company that operates the active copper mine in Butte, Montana Resources, is seeking permission to expand its tailings dam, so it can keep mining. But Atlantic Richfield, which shares responsibility for the Berkeley Pit, says one day the dam could collapse, fill the pit and destroy Butte if more isn’t done. Nora Saks sat down with the Montana Standard’s environmental reporter, Susan Dunlap, to find out more.

The Berkeley Pit.
Nora Saks / Montana Public Radio

Atlantic Richfield is proposing to build a new water treatment plant to further lower the level of the toxic lake inside the Berkeley Pit, in case the tailings dam that sits directly above it ever fails.

A map from a Montana Resources permit request showing the location of a proposed limestone mine near Drummond, Mont.
Montana Department of Environmental Quality

A proposal for a new limestone mine near Drummond is now open for public comment.

A subsidiary of the Washington Companies is seeking a permit from the state Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to operate a 546-acre open pit mine two-and-a-half miles west of Drummond.

State officials say a proposed expansion to Montana Resources’ tailings impoundment in Butte next to its active copper mine there won’t impact groundwater.

Weather Pushes Back Project To Treat Berkeley Pit Water

Mar 14, 2019
The Berkeley pit in Butte, Montana, as seen from above.
NASA (CC-BY-2)

BUTTE, Mont. (AP) — Last month's harsh winter weather has delayed a pilot project that aims to stop the rise of toxic water in Butte's Berkeley Pit.

Montana Resources' Mark Thompson tells The Montanan Standard the mining pit is still frozen over, construction has slowed and the project to treat and discharge the water isn't expected to begin until June.

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