Reforming mining in Montana

Above: Sheep Creek is an important tributary to Montana’s Smith River. It is also the place a foreign mining company has their copper mine.

There is a systemic problem with the hard rock mining industry in Montana.

Too many times have we seen out of state and international hard rock mining companies come into Montana, take advantage of our resources and leave a big mess for the tax payers to clean up. Mines are consistently under bonded and unregulated.

Reform is desperately needed, which is why Trout Unlimited, with the help of State Representative Nate McConnell, D-Missoula, are bringing HB 593 to the House Natural Resources committee today.

HB 593 will require an independent audit of mining companies every 3 years. These audits will make sure the mining companies are following all the rules and state regulations and make sure their bond is up to date.

Second, it will require a much higher reclamation bond for mines operating in sulfide ore bodies. These ore bodies, when exposed to air and water, create acid mine drainage, which is a extremely toxic and harmful to water and the environment. Treating and controlling acid mine drainage is usually required in perpetuity.

Rep. Nate McConnell and Trout Unlimited seek to hold mining companies accountable to the long term messes they create. It is common sense and reasonable to hold these companies to a higher standard. In doing so, we will protect our land, water and special places we hold so dear.

By Shauna Stephenson. Shauna Stephenson has been a writer, photographer, communicator and conservationist for nearly two decades, the past decade being spent at Trout Unlimited, working on projects…