HELENA — The Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has issued its final Hard Rock Mining Operating Permit to Tintina Montana Inc., on the Black Butte Copper Project.
"This is a really exciting day for our project," Vice President of Communications Nancy Schlepp said. "This is the final green light so we can start construction. It’s one we’ve been waiting for a long time, the surety bond has been set, all of the equipment has been on site and everyone is ready to go to work Monday morning."
The Black Butte Copper Project will be located about 15 miles north of White Sulphur Springs in the Little Belt Mountains.
Tintina put in for Hard Rock Mining Operating Permit in December of 2015.
"It's a slow thorough process to make sure we can protect the environment while also providing economic opportunity," said Schelpp.
The issuance of the final operating permit means the mining company can proceed with Phase 1 Development construction. Phase 1 activities include: building and improving roads, staging for construction, creating temporary waste rock storage and building brine contact water pond impoundment.
Tintina has posted a $4,653,348 bond to cover the reclamation costs for the disturbance created by the Phase 1 Development construction activities.
At this time Phase 1 is the only approved work Tintina can conduct without further action by DEQ.
"Phase 2 will be the underground mine and that won't happen for about six months," explained Schlepp, "but we're very excited to get to this point. Some people have been working on this for 10 years just to get to this point."
In order to proceed into any Phase 2 Development or Mining Phase activities, Tintina must submit the corresponding incremental bond for review and approval by DEQ and adhere to requirements in its final permit. DEQ will require detailed final designs consistent with the Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).
The mining company will also obtain a permit from the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation to appropriate water and/or change authorizations needed to mitigate the predicted reduction of flow in Coon Creek.
Editor's note: This article has been updated to include the response from Tintina regaurding the permit issuance.