The bell sounds for the next round of the fight over the Montanore Mine . . .
Environmentalists are challenging U.S. Forest Service approval of a $500 million copper and silver mine in northwest Montana, citing concerns from state officials that it could drain surrounding waterways and potentially harm a species of trout protected under federal law.
The lawsuit filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Missoula challenges the Montanore Mine south of Libby near the Idaho border. Sponsor Mines Management Inc. of Spokane, Washington, has been seeking a mining permit since 2004.
But three groups said in Friday’s lawsuit that the government’s authorization for Montanore ignored studies of the mine’s environmental effects. Those government-sponsored studies concluded the mine potentially could drain groundwater supplies that feed into creeks and a river in the pristine area, an effect that could linger for centuries.