MISSOULA — A U.S. District Court judge has dealt another setback to efforts to develop a new mine in the Cabinet Mountains, rejecting the government's motion to resolve the case with a summary judgment.
The Rock Creek Alliance and other parties are challenging the approval of the proposed Rock Creek Mine by the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the US Forest Service.
The mine, which would be located on the southwestern corner of the Cabinet Mountains, would be developed by Hecla Mining Subsidiary RC Resources.
The government gave the company permission last year to do further exploration of the extensive copper and silver deposits in the Rock Creek Watershed northeast of Noxon and the Bull River.
But as with the Montanore Mine on the east side, the proposal has raised concerns about its impact on water quality and wildlife habitat, especially for the limited number of grizzlies in the range.
The environmental groups sued, saying the agencies didn't give proper consideration to the Endangered Species Act.
US District Judge Donald Molloy is rejecting the government's attempt to have the case stopped, rejecting the agencies' arguments on appeal. The decision sets the stage for the case to proceed to a more formal hearing.