Draft EIS Completed for Montana Gold Mining Operation

The Montana Department of Environmental Quality proposes to grant an operating permit and already issued a final Montana Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit that allows the joint venture to discharge treated mine dewatering water into three creeks near the mine.

Nov. 9 is the deadline for public comments addressing the Montana Department of Environmental Quality’s draft environmental impact statement for the Butte Highlands Joint Venture, an underground gold mining operation about 15 miles south of the city of Butte. The agency proposes to grant an operating permit in the Draft EIS, and it already issued a final Montana Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit on Aug. 1, 2013, that allows the joint venture to discharge treated mine dewatering water into three creeks near the mine.

EPA is still reviewing the joint venture's application to discharge mine dewatering water using an underground infiltration system. The Montana DEQ has scheduled a public meeting Oct. 21 to accept oral and written comments about the Draft EIS.

Coeur d'Alene, Idaho-based Timberline Resources, which owns a 50 percent carried-to-production interest in the joint venture and received MSHA approvals in September for the mine’s ventilation plan, escapeway plan, and mine rescue plan, announced the completion of the Draft EIS on Oct. 10. "We are very pleased that the MDEQ has worked diligently with its independent contractor for the completion, thorough review, and publication of the Draft EIS. Our team at Butte Highlands is focused on development objectives based on the expected receipt of the Record of Decision and the Final Hard Rock Operating Permit by the end of 2013," Timberline President and CEO Paul Dircksen said. "A Draft Environmental Assessment related to the road use permit for material haulage is in process at The U.S. Forest Service, however, delays associated with personnel reassignments caused by numerous wildfires and, more recently, the furlough of Forest Service employees due to the government shutdown has delayed the release of the Draft EA. With these two permit issuances on the horizon, our JV partner is actively conducting additional exploration and preparing for further development and subsequent production."

The company said an additional groundwater monitoring well required by Montana DEQ has been completed and a second monitoring well is under way. A contractor is preparing to install an additional dewatering well, and plans have been finalized for installing water discharge facilities required by the final MPDES water discharge permit.

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