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We are pleased that Montana’s mining industry — and the transformational jobs it provides — survived Initiative 186.

We believe that the Montana Mining Association knows full well the caliber of the bullet it just dodged – and the importance of what comes next.

Butte’s Mark Thompson, president of the association and vice president of environmental affairs for Montana Resources, said Wednesday that the organization understands that the very existence of the failed initiative indicates that there is a “trust gap” between the industry and Montana environmentalists that still needs to be bridged. He said the association intends to view the victory “with an introspective examination of what we can and should do” to close that gap.

We are lucky in Montana. Lucky to have the precious resources that earned the “Treasure State” sobriquet. Doubly lucky to have pristine waters that fuel our recreation economy. And three-times-over lucky to have a mining association that sincerely believes in mining responsibly.

No one wants more Zortmans or Beal Mountains in the state. And it’s understood that putting the waters of the state at risk is an unsustainable proposition in 2018.

With a legislative session looming, the association may well seek the same sort of proactive and collaborative solution it put forth on tailings-dam safety regulation. We’ll be watching with interest. Because there’s absolutely no doubt this state needs both mining and outdoor recreation as major economic drivers.

Tuesday night’s result, we believe, makes that coexistence possible.

This is the view of the Montana Standard editorial board. 

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