Hardrock Mining Can Be Done Without Creating Perpetual Pollution:
Stillwater Mine (operating)
The Stillwater Mine is an underground platinum and palladium mine in operation since 1986. The Custer National Forest and Montana Department of Environmental Quality (formerly Department of State Lands) were the lead agencies for NEPA and MEPA actions at the Stillwater Mine. An EIS was completed in 1985, and there have been multiple mine expansions, requiring further NEPA analysis. Although there have been some water quality impacts from mine operations, none of the NEPA documents have predicted long-term water treatment, and none are expected post-closure. According to the 2012 FEIS, “mine waters will no longer be treated post-closure.” Eventual disposal of these mine waters would occur via discharge to groundwater through percolation ponds and underground workings or to the respective river through a constructed channel.
Troy Mine (Closed – Reclamation being performed)
The Troy Mine was a copper and silver mine operating in the Cabinet mountains, which first began operations in 1981 and operated intermittently until it discontinued operations in 2015. The Montana Department of State Lands and the Kootenai National Forest were the lead agencies for NEPA and MEPA actions in permitting the mine.
In the original EIS (1978), the EIS relied on a USGS report in determining that the risk from AMD would be low. Specifically, the EIS determined that “Although the potential for encountering pyritic materials cannot be dismissed, there is no evidence to indicate that pyrite and resultant acid mine drainage will develop from the Mt. Vernon operation.”
This projection was confirmed in the June 2012 Final EIS for the Troy Mine Revised Reclamation Plan, conducted by the Montana DEQ and the Kootenai National Forest,
Butte Highlands Joint Venture (draft EIS)
BHJV in Silver Bow County is a proposed underground gold mine owned by New Jersey Mining Company and located 15 miles sound of Butte. The 2013 draft EIS includes plans for dewatering of and treated discharge into Fish, Moose, and Basin Creeks.