Site Looking West

The future site of Premier Industries slag processing plant is pictured here about 1.3 miles southwest of Montana Highway 1 on Mill Creek Highway.

Walter Hinick, The Montana Standard

A slag processing plant that Premier Industries LLC wants to build on 93 acres of land along Mill Creek Highway near Anaconda took another step forward Monday night.

Anaconda’s planning board voted 7-1 to recommend approval of a major development permit for the facility that Rick Tabish, a contractor on the project, has said will bring around 700 jobs to Anaconda.

Tabish cited the 700 figure during a public-comment period Monday during which Anaconda resident Pete Smith asked for definitive figures on the number of jobs the facility is estimated to produce.

The question was in reference to a Montana Department of Transportation permit application The Montana Standard reported on last week, which estimates that traffic along an approach on Mill Creek Highway would produce 240 vehicles trips per day from four shifts of 60 workers.

Tabish said Monday that the 240 number reflects daily traffic on the approach and not an employee count.

“Every position at that plant needs four people to run that position,” said Tabish, who earlier in the meeting noted the facility will have 15 modules that each consist of four furnaces.

Conditions of approval the planning board recommended Monday included that the company should submit final plans and specifications for its facility to the county, get approval to use potable water and municipal sewer extensions and submit copies of necessary permits from environmental agencies.

The company has already been issued a general storm-water construction permit from the Montana Department of Environmental Quality but is anticipated to also need an air quality permit for its industrial phase and a public water permit.

Meanwhile, Tabish said Tuesday by phone that observers of the project shouldn’t use environmental permits as yardsticks for progress.

He said the company doesn’t need an air quality permit for the plant’s industrial phase to complete site preparation work, building construction or the bureaucratic steps he said Premier and its contractors have so far done with state and county agencies.

“We don’t make a move unless it’s approved by an agency,” said Tabish, noting that Premier and his company FX Solutions aren’t “just winging it” when it comes to taking all the necessary steps it takes to get a project of plant’s magnitude off the ground.

He added that there are lots of moving parts and pieces to the project and that he’s proud of the progress Premier and its contractors has made so far

“We’ve got an exciting project,” he said.

Planning board member Dale Strommen was absent Monday night. The lone dissenting vote was cast by Frank Fitzpatrick.

The new facility will turn Anaconda slag into a material used for fracking oil and natural gas.

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