Last Chance Audubon has concerns about the mining industry in Montana and the potential for future problems associated with proposals for new hard rock mines.
In 1998, Pegasus Gold declared bankruptcy, leaving Montanans to treat the polluted water in perpetuity for two very profitable gold mines at Zortman-Landusky in central Montana and Beal Mountain Mine south of Butte, while offering their executives bonuses totaling over $1 million.
The Zortman mine produced over $300 million in profits and to date has cost Montana taxpayers over $33 million. At Beal Mountain the $6 million bond has not covered the $18 million spent by the taxpayers.
Hecla Mining Company has proposed two new silver-copper mines.
The man at the helm of these proposed mines is Phillips S. Baker, the former chief financial officer at Pegasus before and during the bankruptcy and the Hecla CEO since 2003.
For this reason, Last Chance Audubon supports I-186, which requires those applying for a state mining permit to show proof that their mines will not leave a legacy of perpetual pollution like acid mine drainage, or lead, mercury, or arsenic pollution. Rules like this are critical to protect Montana wildlife, water and soils, and vibrant tourist industry.
Brian Shovers, Last Chance Audubon Conservation chair