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The Trump administration is seeking to fast-track mining projects and could offer grants and loans to help companies pay for equipment, administration officials said Thursday, as they offered details on a plan that critics said could spoil rivers and lakes in Minnesota, Idaho and elsewhere with mining pollution.

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“I’m glad we didn’t do this 30 years ago because there were a lot of things different back in those days. The regulations were not as stringent, people’s mindsets were different and I think we’re doing a far far better job of it now than we probably could’ve conceived of 30 years ago and I’m very glad for that.”

Environmental regulators are moving toward permitting a copper mine in central Montana along a tributary of one of the state's most popular recreational rivers after finding the mining company would be able to mitigate any harm to groundwater, creeks and the Smith River.

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A Canadian company’s request to conduct exploratory drilling at 35 sites along the Beartooth Front near Nye for the next seven summers has been conditionally approved pending acquisition of a reclamation bond.

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