Residents voice concerns over proposed gold mine near Butte

SILVER BOW COUNTY

By Grace Ditzler, KTVM Reporter, gditzler@ktvm.com
POSTED: 3:02 PM Oct 21 2013   UPDATED: 10:55 PM Oct 21 2013
Public meeting held in Butte to discuss proposed gold mine
BUTTE, Mont. -

Members of the public told the Montana Department of Environmental Quality why they're concerned about a proposed mine project south of Butte.

The DEQ held a public meeting Monday night to discuss the proposed Butte Highlands Joint Venture Mine.

The mine site is 15 miles south of Butte, off of Highland Road (North) and North Roosevelt Drive.

The mine would be used for underground gold mining.

More than 50 community members showed up to Monday night's meeting.

Jeffery Herrick from the DEQ walked the group through Draft Environmental Impact Statement of the proposed site, which includes several mine alternatives and two possible routes for hauling ore.

Proponents of the gold mine said they're excited at the possibility of bringing back mining to the Butte area. They said it would spur economic growth.

"I think if done responsibly, the opportunity is there for some good economic development in Butte," said state representative Ryan Lynch.

But neighbors of the area say they're worried- specifically when it comes to the proposed routes for hauling out the ore.

They think it will disrupt nearby residents, travelers and wildlife.

"It's the safety of all the people that travel," said nearby resident Rick Estabrook. "All of those people would be in danger if there were haul trucks going up and down that road."

The DEQ tells us they've already done some exploratory drilling at the proposed site.

The draft is not final, and the DEQ said any concerns or suggestions from the public will be considered before making a final decision.

Anyone can submit written comments by November 9.

The DEQ said they hope to have this part of the process done by the end of the year.