Company seeks expansion of Montana gold and silver mine

HELENA, Mon. — Canada-based RX Exploration has applied for an operating permit to expand a gold and silver mine northwest of Helena after regulatory officials became concerned the company was pushing the limits of its existing permit.

HELENA, Mon. — Canada-based RX Exploration has applied for an operating permit to expand a gold and silver mine northwest of Helena after regulatory officials became concerned the company was pushing the limits of its existing permit.

The company made the application Thursday to the Montana Department of Environmental Quality to expand operations at the historic Drumlummon Mine.

“This is a big step toward moving forward,” Bob Taylor, the company’s chief operating officer, told the Independent Record (http://bit.ly/v2Zw8D ).

The mining company has been operating under a Small Miners Exclusion Statement, SMES, that allows it to disturb five acres and remove up to 10,000 tons of ore.

But the Lewis and Clark City-County Board of Health in a letter to the state Department of Environment expressed concerns about the permit.

“We question the appropriateness of allowing RX to operate under a SMES instead of requiring the company to apply for a full-scale … operating permit,” the board stated in its letter.

Also, the DEQ’s Hard Rock Mining Program said the mine had expanded to 4.71 acres.

If the new permit is issued, it would allow the company to extract up to 255,000 tons of ore a year and operate around the clock for 340 days per year.

The permit covers 614 acres, though company officials said they expect to disturb only 52 acres.

If the permit is approved, the company expects to increase production to between 500 and 750 tons of ore per day.

“That 500 tons is expected to be the target production rate for the life of the mine, but RX may consider increasing or decreasing that as exploration continues,” the company said in the permit.

The company said it expects the mine to last for seven years at that rate. But Herb Rolfe, the DEQ’s Hard Rock Op Permit supervisor, said he expects the mine to operate longer as mining companies start with short periods and then expand with exploration.

Rolfe said it will be at least eight months before officials decide on the permit. The agency has 90 days to review the permit, and then an additional 90 days to write an Environmental Assessment or more involved Environmental Impact Statement. A 30-day public comment period follows, and then another 30 days for the agency to issue its Record of Decision.

The company, which employees about 100 people at the mine it has been exploring since 2009, has been removing about 170 tons of ore per day, recovering about $2 million in precious metals. The mine produced 65,000 ounces of silver and 4,000 ounces of gold between June 1 and Sept. 30 of this year.

The mine started in the 1880s and produced $29 million in gold and silver when gold sold for $20 an ounce. But it flooded during an ownership dispute.

Officials with RX Exploration said modern mining techniques and new technologies will allow them to reach gold and silver they believe remains in the mine.

Plans to get that gold and silver include building a processing plant near the mine where ore would be crushed, mixed with water and chemicals and put through a centrifugal process. Currently, ore is hauled to another location to be milled. Taylor said it could be cheaper to mill the ore closer to the mine.

The company said mine tailings would be put in a lined landfill below the mill and covered.

———

Information from: Independent Record, http://www.helenair.com

Just Posted

An incredible closing ceremony capped off the 2019 Canada Winter Games. (File photo by SUSAN JUDGE/2019 Canada Winter Games)
2019 Canada Winter Games Legacy Fund Society hands out $655,000

35 not-for-profit groups across Alberta to get money

Dr. Verna Yiu, president and chief executive officer of Alberta Health Services, says COVID ICU patients have increased by more than 100 per cent in the past month. (Photo by The Government of Alberta)
Record number of people in ICU: says AHS president

The head of Alberta Health Services says hospital staff are treating more… Continue reading

The Red Deer Rebels have acquired goaltender Connor Ungar from the Brandon Wheat Kings, the team announced Monday. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Red Deer Rebels acquire goaltender Connor Ungar, forward Liam Keeler in separate trades

The Red Deer Rebels have acquired goaltender Connor Ungar from the Brandon… Continue reading

Alexander Michael Talbot, 29, was found guilty of operating a vehicle while prohibited, flight from police and vehicle theft in Red Deer provincial court recently. (Advocate file photo)
Man charged following police chases in central Alberta last summer is sentenced

Alexander Michael Talbot sentenced to 22 months in prison

Red Deer musician Curtis Phagoo is glad the Alberta government is investing $2 million to help the province’s live music industry, but he would have liked the criteria to be expanded, so the money could be used as relief to cover revenue shortfalls. (Contributed photo by Cory Michaud)
Red Deer musicians welcome $2M in grants to help live music, but would have preferred relief program

The money is for future projects and can’t be used for retroactive expenses

FILE - In this Feb. 3, 2021, file photo, exile Tibetans use the Olympic Rings as a prop as they hold a street protest against the holding of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, in Dharmsala, India. Groups alleging human-rights abuses in China are calling for a full boycott of the Beijing Olympics, which is sure to ratchet up pressure on the International Olympic Committee, athletes, sponsors, and sports federations. A coalition of activists representing Uyghurs, Tibetans, residents of Hong Kong and others, issued a statement Monday, May 17, 2021 calling for the “full boycott,” eschewing lesser measures like “diplomatic boycotts" and negotiations with the IOC or China. (AP Photo/Ashwini Bhatia, File)
AP Exclusive: Full-blown boycott pushed for Beijing Olympics

AP Exclusive: Full-blown boycott pushed for Beijing Olympics

Canada's Eric Lamaze riding Fine Lady 5 during the CP International competition at the Spruce Meadows Masters in Calgary, Alta., Sunday, Sept. 8, 2019. Canada's most decorated show jumper has withdrawn from consideration for the Tokyo Olympics. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Canadian show jumper Eric Lamaze withdraws from Tokyo short list

Canadian show jumper Eric Lamaze withdraws from Tokyo short list

Toronto Raptors head coach Nick Nurse questions a foul call during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Cleveland Cavaliers Monday, April 26, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. Nurse says it was the COVID-19 outbreak in March that spiked his team's chances for a post-season run.THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Chris O'Meara
Nurse faces a busy off-season, much busier if Canada qualifies for Tokyo Olympics

Nurse faces a busy off-season, much busier if Canada qualifies for Tokyo Olympics

Hockey Hall of Fame inductee Danielle Goyette speaks to reporters during a press conference in Toronto on Friday, November 10, 2017. Goyette has been named director of player development for the NHL's Toronto Maple Leafs and their American Hockey League affiliate. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christopher Katsarov
Hayley Wickenheiser, Danielle Goyette together again on Toronto Maple Leafs staff

Hayley Wickenheiser, Danielle Goyette together again on Toronto Maple Leafs staff

Carolina Hurricanes center Jordan Staal (11) falls on Nashville Predators center Yakov Trenin (13) during the first period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup first-round playoff series in Raleigh, N.C., Monday, May 17, 2021. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
Staal, Niederreiter lift Hurricanes past Predators 5-2

Staal, Niederreiter lift Hurricanes past Predators 5-2

Washington Capitals center Lars Eller (20) watches the puck get past Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask (40) on a shot by Washington Capitals right wing Garnet Hathaway during the first period of Game 2 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup first-round playoff series Monday, May 17, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Marchand scores in OT, Bruins beat Capitals to even series

Marchand scores in OT, Bruins beat Capitals to even series

Toronto Maple Leafs former players Darryl Sittler, centre, Johnny Bower, centre right, are joined by Ted Kennedy's son Mark for a ceremonial puck drop with Montreal Canadiens' Andrei Markov, left, and Toronto Maple Leafs' Dion Phaneuf, right, before NHL action in Toronto on Wednesday, October 8, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Leafs, Canadiens legends eagerly awaiting playoff series

Leafs, Canadiens legends eagerly awaiting playoff series

Conservative MP Ron Liepert rises during Question Period on Parliament Hill, Friday, March 10, 2017 in Ottawa. Ron Liepert says these days, the phone calls and emails from people wanting to talk about his party's climate plan have slowed. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Western MP pitches Conservative carbon price with a 24-pack of Pilsner

Western MP pitches Conservative carbon price with a 24-pack of Pilsner

Most Read