HELEN, Mont. (NMB) – Following a wave of opposition to a proposed exploration project at the Zortman mine site, the Montana Department of Environmental Quality said further analysis was needed.
In a press release, DEQ says it has issued a final environmental assessment for the project, but an environmental impact statement will be required before the project can move forward.
The DEQ says comments on the draft EA provided “contradictory evidence from credible and potentially expert sources”, which “raises significant questions about whether significant impacts could occur to historic, archaeological, social and cultural development as a result of the actions proposed”.
The press release adds that based on current information, “DEQ cannot say with certainty that there are no potentially significant impacts, DEQ must comply with the requirements of the Montana Environmental Policy Act and complete a declaration of environmental impact (EIS) which will analyze in more detail the potential impacts. .
According to the press release, the proposed exploration project involves digging a trench, approximately 350 square feet and 25 feet deep, to extract a 125-ton bulk sample for metallurgical testing. The project includes the construction of a 686 foot access road which would be left in place after project completion for use by the landowner. The entire project is expected to take approximately 10 days and disturb 0.18 acres. DEQ would require all disturbances except the route to be recovered.
An EIS requires additional resources and the associated costs are covered by the applicant. To view the final environmental assessment, including Tribal Outreach documentation and comments received, please visit: https://deq.mt.gov/files/Land/Hardrock/Luke-Ployhar/00860_AMD1_Ross%20Pit%20Highwall_2022-02-22_FINAL%20EA.pdf
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