Hard rock mining initiative blasted by voters

Posted at 3:03 PM, Nov 09, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-09 17:03:45-05

BUTTE – Montana voters rejected an initiative that would have increased cleanup standards for hard rock mining operations in the state. Montana Resources in Butte is happy with the outcome.

“The voters saw through the bad language and said, ‘we’re not taking it here,’” said Mark Thompson of Montana Resources.

The Butte mining company, which employs about 350 people, waged a public-relations war against the initiative in June.

“We notified our employees that this was a threat, a threat to them personally,” said Thompson.

Mining interests around the state started the Stop I-186 group and held rallies and an advertising campaign aimed at defeating the initiative.

“Our employees and community here in Butte and at Montana Resources just did an outstanding effort spreading the word, educating people as to what the consequences of his initiative could have been,” said Thompson.

The initiative would have given the Montana Department of Environmental Quality the authority to deny permits to new hard rock mining operations that fail to show sufficient measures in preventing water population without perpetual treatment. However, opponents argued the initiative was unnecessary.

“People recognize that we have some of the toughest water quality standards in the country right here in Montana and they recognize this was a redundant law targeting new, stopping all new mining in Montana through litigation,” said Thompson.

David Brooks with Montana Trout Unlimited, which supported the initiative, released a statement Wednesday stating that though they are disheartened by the decision, they’re not giving up and ‘don’t count us out yet.’

Reporting by John Emeigh for MTN News