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DEQ gives violations, says Montana Tunnels mine is abandoned

DEQ gives violations, says Montana Tunnels mine is abandoned
Posted at 9:14 AM, Jul 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-29 11:20:33-04

HELENA — The Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) issued three violations and is considering the Montana Tunnels by Jefferson City abandoned.

The Montana Tunnels mine has been dormant since 2008, and the Mine's permit was suspended in 2018.

"So, for us, we need to have an on the ground check, so we do get a lot of information in paper form in the office, and we are able to do a check in the office at our desks on those things, but it is important for us to be on-site and make sure that what we are reviewing on paper in line with what we expect to see on the site," said DEQ Mining Bureau chief Dan Walsh.

The biggest issue for the State is the bond money, clean up and reclamation work. DEQ stated that another $16.5 million is being requested from Montana Tunnels.

"The first is that we are concerned that it's not completed, the reclamation that is required by its permit," noted Walsh.

DEQ also is requiring reclamation within two years of a site being abandoned or incomplete.

"The waste rock dump up at the Montana Tunnels here, partially it has been reclaimed its been reshaped and soil has been placed on it, it's been vegetated. And other areas still remain barren," said DEQ Environmental Science Specialist Wayne Jepson. "This is a good example of what remains to be completed. These areas will need to be contoured and vegetation reestablished."

However, none of the work is from a new reclamation plan that the DEQ approved in 2020, which includes addressing the re-routing of Clancy Creek.

MTN news reached out to Robert Trenaman, President and Chief Operating Officer of Eastern Resources to get the company's response to DEQ's actions. He said in an email:

"The Montana Tunnels mine was acquired by Eastern Resources in February of 2010 from Apollo gold corp. and at the time of the acquisition, the reclamation bond had already been set by DEQ at a little over $31 million with no new disturbances."

The company said they plan to respond to the state's alleged violations by the July 28 deadline.