Tag Archives: Hecla Mining Co.

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.

Read more . . .

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.

Read more . . .

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.

Read more . . .

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.

Read more . . .

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.

Read more . . .

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.

Read more . . .

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.

Read more . . .

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

Coalition challenges Rock Creek Mine water permit

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

An environmental coalition is challenging the DNRC water permit for the Rock Creek Mine, one of two proposed mines near the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness . . .

A coalition of environmental groups is challenging the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation’s proposed decision to issue a water permit to the company hoping to build a massive copper and silver mine near Noxon.

The coalition, including the Clark Fork Coalition, Rock Creek Alliance, Earthworks and the Montana Environmental Information Center, has alleged that the Hecla Mining Company’s Rock Creek Mine would dewater streams within the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness. The nonprofit environmental law firm Earthjustice represents the groups.

The formal objection was filed with the DNRC on Sept. 6.

Read more . . .

Second mine near Cabinet Mountains Wilderness nears approval

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

The second of two mines crowding the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness is getting closer to operational approval . . .

Days after one northwest Montana mining project won state approval to start operating near the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness, another expects to see its supplemental environmental impact statement arrive for public review this week.

Coeur d’Alene-based Hecla Mining Co. officials said they expected the environmental review to reach the U.S. Forest Service on Tuesday, with publication expected in the Federal Register on Friday. That starts a 45-day comment period.

Hecla took over Revett Mining Co. in June, paying Revett shareholders $20 million in Hecla stock in the deal. That spelled the closure of Revett’s Troy Mine, but gave greater impetus on opening the larger Rock Creek Mine project five miles northeast of Noxon, in Sanders County. That mine holds a purported 229 million ounces of silver and 2 billion pounds of copper.

Read more . . .