Montana News

Dec 7, 2012 11:30 AM by Lindsey Gordon - MTN News

Abandoned Mount Helena mine closed off

HELENA - The Montana Department of Environmental Quality and the Montana Department of Natural Resources have teamed up to close an abandoned mine on Mount Helena.

No one is sure exactly what was mined here, it was definitely hard rock and the DEQ would bet that it was either copper or gold.

The city of Helena came to the DEQ over the summer with the concern that people were venturing into the abandoned mine, as seen by some litter found at the opening.

"This hazardous mine opening is what we refer to it as, lots of people were climbing down into this thing just because its interesting, its something that's neat and so that's the main reason for closing it off. Just to protect public safety so that nobody gets in there and gets hurt or gets stuck and can't get out," explained Pebbles Opp with the DEQ.

Opp added that it's important to keep them out of there. "It could be unstable if people are going in there, the rocks could be unstable, it could collapse at any time and it's just very, very dangerous for people to be going into these."

The way they are closing the opening will keep people out, but still leave room for cave-dwelling wildlife.

"We are actually going use a bat-friendly closure, which, it basically consists of a culvert with a grate that's built into it that allows the bats to get in and out, but keeps people out. People cannot climb between the bars and get in, but still allows wildlife that's using it as habitat," Opp told us.

The whole project was started and finished on Thursday. DEQ officials aren't sure when the mine was opened, or when it was abandoned, but their guess is that it was a long time ago.

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