HELENA, Mont. -

State environmental regulators have approved an exploration permit for a Canadian company considering opening a copper mine near White Sulphur Springs.
The permit approved Thursday by the Department of Environmental Quality will allow Tintina Alaska Corp. to drill a tunnel nearly a mile long and 18 feet in diameter to extract up to 10,000 tons of ore for testing.
The Black Butte Mine is located near Sheep Creek, which flows into the Smith River. Kristi Ponozzo (puh-NAH'-zo) of the DEQ says the permit requires Tintina to closely monitor the surface and groundwater, and to have a water treatment system on standby.
Tintina vice president of exploration Jerry Zieg says the DEQ conducted a good analysis and its conditions are manageable.
He says Tintina hopes to begin the project this year.