The Montanore Mine near the Cabinet Mountains wilderness area has a new owner, but no change in plans to develop the mine . . .
The Coeur d’Alene, Idaho-based company that purchased its second major mine project in Northwest Montana within a year has vowed to continue exploration development of both the Rock Creek and Montanore mines.
Supporters of the proposed copper and silver mines say the development of either would be a boon to the struggling local economy, which has one of the highest jobless rates in the state. But environmental groups worry about the impacts the mines will have on the wilderness above, saying the projects could dewater mountain streams for centuries.
On May 24, Hecla Mining Company announced it was acquiring Spokane-based Mines Management, which has been trying to permit the Montanore Mine south of Libby for more than a decade. In the proposed deal, Mines Management shareholders will be paid in Hecla stock.
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.
As expected, the proposed Montanore mine near the edge of the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness received only partial approval from the Montana Department of Environmental Quality . . .
Montana environmental regulators granted conditional approval Friday to a long-stalled silver and copper mine proposed beneath a federal wilderness area, saying the developer must show before mining can proceed that the $500 million project won’t drain overlying creeks.
Department of Environmental Quality Director Tom Livers said the agency was approving an air quality permit and a transmission line that would connect to the Montanore mine. Yet that leaves its operating permit still in question, drawing a backlash from Republicans in the state’s Congressional delegation who urged full approval.
Developer Mines Management, Inc. pledged to move forward despite the state’s concerns over water supplies in the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness.
Well now, it seems the Montana Department of Environmental Quality has reservations about the Montanore Mine proposal . . .
Montana officials are considering giving only partial approval to a $500 million silver and copper mine proposed beneath a wilderness area near the Idaho border, injecting uncertainty into a project that’s been in the works for more than a decade.
Regulators have continuing concerns with the Montanore Mine’s potential effect on surrounding waterways, said Tom Livers director of the Montana Department of Environmental Quality.
“We’re not sure we can approve the full mining plan that’s been proposed,” Livers told The Associated Press. “We’re looking at what we can approve. Some may have to happen subsequently as we get more information.” A decision is expected in late January.
Here’s the Missoulian’s report on the Big Creek water quality restoration project . . .
A major tributary to the North Fork of the Flathead River was removed from a list of impaired Montana water bodies Friday, becoming the first state stream to meet the standards for delisting. Officials with the Hungry Horse Ranger District and the Montana Department of Environmental Quality announced that Big Creek is the first water body to complete a full water quality restoration process after it was added to a list of sediment-impaired waters in 1996.
Hungry Horse District Ranger Jimmy DeHerrera said the delisting is a major accomplishment, and the result of a watershed restoration plan that began nine years ago. The plan involved decommissioning some 60 miles of forest logging roads, removing 47 culverts and replacing an additional 19, improving 89 miles of roads to decrease storm water runoff, and replanting 25 acres of eroding uplands.
Big Creek, a major tributary of the North Fork, has now officially completed a restoration process aimed at reducing sediment contamination. . . .
Big Creek is the first stream in the state to have completed a water quality restoration process aimed at reducing sediments.
the Montana Department of Environmental Quality and Flathead National Forest announced the news Thursday that Big Creek had been removed from the state’s list of impaired waters.
Recent monitoring data has shown that sediment and stream conditions in Big Creek, a major tributary to the North Fork of the Flathead River, now are similar to conditions in streams with minimal human impacts.
That wasn’t the case in 1996, when Big Creek was added to a list of Montana waters with impaired water quality.