Tag Archives: Hecla Mining Co.

The ‘bad actor’ law and common sense

Southern Cabinet Mountains, as seen from Swede Mountain, near Libby
Southern Cabinet Mountains, as seen from Swede Mountain, near Libby

Hecla Mining wants to dig a couple of mines along the edge of the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness. Montana wants reimbursed for cleaning up an old mess first. This excellent Flathead Beacon op-ed by Jim Nash lays out the situation very clearly . . .

When Webb Scott Brown of the Chamber of Commerce attacks Montana’s enforcement of a state law that protects taxpayers from shouldering the cleanup bill for mining companies, it’s clearly time to impose an old-fashioned smell test. In weaving together his argument, he got many of his facts wrong.

I live in the community where Phillips Baker’s company proposes to mine. And as the retired owner of a sawmill and wood products company I know the challenges of creating jobs and making a livelihood in rural Montana. I also understand the obligations businesses and their leaders must take on when they seek the privilege of developing our state’s natural resources.

From my perspective, the bad actor law is common sense. It simply says that mining companies and their top executives don’t get another shot at our state’s natural resources if they walked out on their cleanup obligations in the past — unless they’re prepared to pay back the state for cleanup work the public had to do in the company’s place.

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Hecla Mining, in legal fight over Montana “bad actor” ruling, halts cleanup work at Troy mine

Hecla Mining, the company trying to get approval for two mines on the edge of the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness, is playing hard ball with the State of Montana over its CEO’s “bad actor” rating . . .

An Idaho mining company is halting reclamation work at a closed silver and copper mine in northwest Montana amid a legal fight with state regulators over cleanup expenses at other sites.

Hecla Mining Co. manager Doug Stiles said Tuesday the cleanup of the Troy Mine west of Libby has been suspended indefinitely.

Stiles says the company is evaluating potential legal risks of continuing work at the site after the Montana Department of Environmental Quality sued Hecla CEO Phillips S. Baker Jr. last month.

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Mine on edge of Cabinet Wilderness inches closer to USFS approval

Southern Cabinet Mountains, as seen from Swede Mountain, near Libby
Southern Cabinet Mountains, as seen from Swede Mountain, near Libby

Hecla Mining inches closer to Forest Service approval of their proposed Rock Creek Mine on the edge of the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness.

Meanwhile, Montana has a bone to pick with Hecla CEO Phillips Baker Jr. over past shenanigans in the state . . .

Federal officials proposed approval of the first phase of a silver and copper mine beneath a northwestern Montana wilderness area amid a legal fight between state officials and the company behind the project, officials said Wednesday.

A final decision is expected in coming weeks on the Rock Creek Mine near Noxon after the Kootenai National Forest released a lengthy environmental study of the proposal, forest spokesman Willie Sykes said

Idaho-based Hecla Mining Co. would initially mine on 20 acres, to determine the feasibility of a full-scale mine that would cover almost 500 acres.

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Hecla Mining challenges its ‘bad actor’ label

Hecla Mining wants to dig a couple of mines along the edge of the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness. Montana wants reimbursed for cleaning up an old mess first. Hecla is challenging this in court . .

An Idaho mining company was due in a Montana courtroom on Thursday to challenge its designation by state officials as an industry “bad actor” because of pollution tied to its CEO.

Hecla Mining Co. wants a judge to block the Montana Department of Environmental Quality from suspending permits for two new silver and copper mines the company has proposed beneath the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness, a remote, 147-square mile (380-square kilometer) expanse of glaciated peaks near the Idaho border.

[April 12,] State District Judge Matthew Cuffe scheduled afternoon arguments in the case.

The Coeur d’Alene-based company and its president and CEO, Phillips S. Baker, Jr., were issued violations letters last month because of ongoing pollution at mines operated by Baker’s former employer.

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Hecla Mining president says ‘bad actor’ label is just delay tactic

Southern Cabinet Mountains, as seen from Swede Mountain, near Libby
Southern Cabinet Mountains, as seen from Swede Mountain, near Libby

Here’s your daily dose of schadenfreude: Hecla Mining wants to develop two mines along the boundary of the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness area. Montana wants them to pay cleanup costs for a previous mess first . . .

The head of an Idaho mining company says Montana officials appear to be trying to delay two mines proposed beneath a wilderness area, designating him a “bad actor” because of past pollution.

Hecla Mining President Phillips S. Baker, Jr. told The Associated Press Friday the designation was unwarranted during his first public interview since accusations last week that he violated state mining laws.

Baker is a former vice president for Pegasus Mining. Its bankruptcy left taxpayers on the hook for costly pollution cleanups including at the Zortman-Landusky gold mine.

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Hecla Mining fires lawsuit at Montana over ‘bad actor’ designation

That didn’t take long. As mentioned here yesterday, Hecla Mining and its president were deemed to be in violation of the state’s “bad actor” law. Basically, Montana wants to be reimbursed for cleaning up messes made back in the late ’90s. Hecla, which is trying to open up two new mines on the edge of the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness, has responded with a lawsuit . . .

An Idaho mining company sued Montana environmental regulators on Friday for labeling the company and its president “bad actors” who should pay for cleanups at several polluted sites before pursuing two new mines beneath a wilderness area.

Attorneys for subsidiaries of Hecla Mining described the state’s allegation that the company is responsible for past and ongoing pollution from defunct mines as frivolous.

Hecla, based in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, claims to be the oldest precious metals mining company in the United States. It says it had no direct involvement in the polluted mines at issue.

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Violations of Montana’s ‘bad actor’ law could delay progress on mines near Cabinet Wilderness

Southern Cabinet Mountains, as seen from Swede Mountain, near Libby
Southern Cabinet Mountains, as seen from Swede Mountain, near Libby

Well now, Hecla Mining is definitely not having things all their own way with plans to develop two mines along the edge of the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness area There’s a little matter of past sins coming home to roost . . .

An Idaho company could be forced to pay the state of Montana more than $30 million in cleanup costs from pollution at several former mining sites before it can pursue two new projects beneath a wilderness area, state regulators said Tuesday.

Hecla Mining Inc. and its president were deemed to be in violation of the state’s “bad actor” law that targets individuals and companies that abandon polluted sites, said Montana Department of Environmental Quality Director Tom Livers. The alleged violations were first reported by The Associated Press.

Hecla’s president and CEO, Phillips Baker, Jr., is a former executive for Pegasus Gold Corp., which went bankrupt in 1998, leaving government agencies with a massive cleanup bill from three Montana sites that polluted surrounding waterways when cyanide, arsenic and other contaminants leaked out of the mines.

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Rock Creek Mine gets cautious, partial approval

Southern Cabinet Mountains, as seen from Swede Mountain, near Libby
Southern Cabinet Mountains, as seen from Swede Mountain, near Libby

Hecla Mining’s proposed Rock Creek Mine near the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness received partial approval from the US Forest Service — enough to build an adit and do some environmental work. By and large, this is a victory for opposition environmental groups . . .

Opponents and proponents of a proposed copper and silver mine in Sanders County are both celebrating after the U.S. Forest Service announced it would issue only a partial approval for the project in an upcoming Record of Decision.

Conservation groups say that the decision to withhold a full development permit for the Rock Creek Mine proves that a massive industrial project should not be developed beneath a wilderness area for fear that it will dewater the land above. But officials with Hecla Mining Company, the Coeur d’Alene-based mining company heading up the project, said that a phased approval has always been part of the plan.

In a letter dated Oct. 31, Deputy Regional Forester David E. Schmid announced that the final Record of Decision would only approve phase 1 of the Rock Creek Project, allowing the construction of a mine adit and an environmental evaluation of the site, which is located near Noxon.

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Foes using ‘bad actor’ law to oppose mines on edge of Cabinet Wilderness

Southern Cabinet Mountains, as seen from Swede Mountain, near Libby
Southern Cabinet Mountains, as seen from Swede Mountain, near Libby

It’s kind of a long shot, but opponents of mining along the edge of the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness are employing “bad actor” law in an attempt to block issuance of mining permits to the Hecla Mining Company . . .

Opponents of Hecla Mining Co’s projects near the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness claim its chief executive officer can’t seek new permits until he accounts for millions of dollars in reclamation work incurred by his previous mining company.

In a letter released Monday, the coalition of environmental groups asked the Montana Department of Environmental Quality to suspend all permitting efforts requested by Hecla CEO Phillips Baker. Baker was formerly chief financial officer of Pegasus Gold Inc., whose bankruptcy in 1998 left the state responsible for at least $33 million in acid mine contamination at the Zortman and Landusky mines between the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation and Malta.

The Pegasus bankruptcy was a major factor in the Legislature updating the Metal Mine Reclamation Act in 2001, with its “bad actor” provision prohibiting officials of uncompleted reclamation efforts from starting new projects.

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Approvals for mine near Cabinet Wilderness overturned

Southern Cabinet Mountains, as seen from Swede Mountain, near Libby
Southern Cabinet Mountains, as seen from Swede Mountain, near Libby

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Forest Service had a bad day in court when federal judge Donald Malloy overturned their approvals for construction of the Montanore mine at the edge of the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness . . .

In two decisions issued at the end of May, U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy ruled that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Forest Service violated the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Water Act, the National Forest Management Act, and the National Environmental Policy Act when they approved a massive mining operation beneath the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness.

Hecla Mining Company is looking to build the Montanore copper and silver mine on the edge of the wilderness, about 18 miles south of Libby. The mine’s presence would require about 13 miles of paved or expanded roads, 14 miles of electric transmission line, wastewater treatment and holding, and tailings and seepage storage. If constructed, it would process tens of thousands of tons of ore every day.

The mine’s surface operations would be in known grizzly bear and bull trout habitat, and its underground activity would extend beneath the wilderness area, potentially draining millions of gallons of water from the local creeks.

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Also read: Federal judge overturns approvals for proposed Montana mine (Daily Inter Lake)