Forest officials to prepare statement on Montanore Mine’s evaluation phase

Print Article

The Kootenai National Forest (KNF) will prepare a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) for the Evaluation Phase of the Montanore Project (Project). The KNF will also prepare new Biological Assessments (BAs) for terrestrial wildlife and aquatic species to be submitted to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) for formal consultation. The purpose of the SEIS and new BAs is to address two U.S. District Court opinions and to ensure that Evaluation Phase activities comply with all applicable laws and minimize adverse environmental effects on National Forest System lands.

Through a joint EIS process with the Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), the KNF evaluated the environmental effects of the proposed Project and alternatives and issued a Record of Decision (ROD) in 2016. The ROD documented the KNF Supervisor’s decision to approve an amended Plan of Operations for the development of all phases of the Project consistent with Alternative 3 and Alternative D-R as modified by the ROD (the selected mine and transmission line alternatives). The DEQ issued a ROD in 2016 that documented the DEQ Director’s decision to conditionally approve amendments to the provisions of the existing DEQ Operating Permit for the Project which pertain to the Evaluation Phase only, and to make the permit provisions consistent with Alternative 3 as modified by the ROD (the selected mine alternative). Approval was conditioned on subsequent DEQ approval of the renewal of the MPDES Permit which was finalized in March 2017. In two U.S. District Court opinions issued on May 30, 2017, the U.S. District Court remanded the JFEIS and 2016 ROD back to the Forest Service for further action and vacated the decision. The Court also remanded to the USFWS its 2014 Biological Opinions.

Based on the District Court’s opinions, the KNF decided to prepare a SEIS for the Evaluation Phase and to issue a ROD for the Evaluation Phase. The proposed federal action is approval of a Plan of Operations for the Evaluation Phase of the Project consistent with the Organic Administration Act, Locatable Minerals Regulations 36 CFR 228 Subpart A, and the Multiple Use Mining Act. The KNF is the lead agency for the SEIS. A Draft ROD will be subject to the objection process described in 36 CFR 218. The ROD will document the KNF Forest Supervisor’s decision whether to approve an amended Plan of Operations for development of the Evaluation Phase of the Montanore Project.

The Project is a proposed copper and silver underground mine and associated facilities, including a new transmission line, located about 18 miles south of Libby. The orebody is beneath the Cabinet Mountain Wilderness. Montanore Minerals Corporation, a subsidiary of Hecla Mining Company, would be the Project operator. During the Evaluation Phase, MMC would use an existing evaluation adit on private land in upper Libby Creek, conduct certain monitoring activities, and complete geotechnical and hydrologic studies on National Forest System lands between Little Cherry Creek and Poorman Creek. Prior the Evaluation Phase, MMC would fund or implement access changes and acquire 500 acres for wildlife mitigation.

There is no formal scoping period for a SEIS. When the draft SEIS is complete, the KNF will announce dates, times and places for and accepting public comments in local newspapers and at www.fs.usda.gov/projects/kootenai/landmanagement/projects.

For information on the project, contact Lynn Hagarty, Program Manager, KNF Supervisor’s Office, 31374 US Highway 2, Libby, Montana, 59923, 406-293-6211 lhagarty@fs.fed.us.

Print Article

Read More Briefs

Public Meetings

April 20, 2018 at 2:00 am | Western News •Wednesday, April 25: The Lincoln County Commission meets in the Lincoln County Courthouse at 512 California Ave. in Libby, with video link available in the North Lincoln County Annex at 66121 Hwy 37...

Comments

Read More

Community Calendar

April 20, 2018 at 2:00 am | Western News •Friday, April 20: The Astronomy Club meets 6 p.m. at 324 White Ave. in Libby (watch for the Stargazer sign). President Janine Wesley will present on “The Quantum Multiverse,” and Kathy Nielsen will ...

Comments

Read More

Data breach may affect past Cabinet Peaks work applicants

April 20, 2018 at 2:00 am | Western News A recent data breach at a separate, Alabama-based company may have put the information at risk of anyone who has filled out an online application to work at Cabinet Peaks Medical Center. The only pe...

Comments

Read More

Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office Blotter

April 20, 2018 at 5:00 am | Western News Apr. 13, 8:30 a.m. — A caller reported that sometime during the night someone drove all over their lawn on Granite Avenue. Apr. 13, 9:30 a.m. — A caller reported that someone broke into their vehicl...

Comments

Read More

Contact Us

(406) 293-4124
311 California Ave.
Libby, MT 59923

©2018 The Western News Terms of Use Privacy Policy
X
X