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KALISPELL — A man who fought for more than a decade to maintain his rights to a mining claim in northwestern Montana died two days after a jury awarded him nearly $2.6 million.

A Lincoln County jury awarded the money to Arnold Bakie for a mining company's use of Bakie's claims to access an estimated $8 billion worth of silver and copper claims beneath the Cabinet Mountain Wilderness.

Bakie, 70, was killed in a logging accident on Oct. 19, the Flathead Beacon reported.

In 2007, Mines Management Inc. subsidiary Montanore Minerals Corp. sought to have Bakie's claims declared invalid. A state judge ruled they were valid, so the companies sought rights of way to tunnel through the claims.

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A federal judge allowed the easements, but he said Bakie and other investors, including former Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer, were entitled to fair compensation. Jurors awarded the others $750,000.

Officials with Hecla Mining, which owns the Montanore Mine, did not immediately return a phone message seeking comment.

Stephen Brown, an attorney representing the investor group, said he expects Montanore will appeal the jury's decision.

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