DEQ Seeks Public Comment on Draft EA for Proposed Exploration Project Near Zortman

HELENA, Mont. (NMB) – The Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has announced that they are seeking seeking public comment on a Draft Environmental Assessment (EA) for a proposed exploration project near Zortman in Phillips County.

The new exploration project is proposed by Luke Ployhar on private land at the former Zortman Mine. The proposed project is not a full-scale mine and the operator would have to apply for a separate permit and undergo a separate environmental analysis should he wish to operate a full-scale mine.

DEQ received a complete application for an exploration license from the landowner. The proposed exploration project includes excavating one trench, approximately 350 square feet and 25 feet deep, to extract a 125-ton bulk sample for metallurgical testing. The project includes construction of an access road that would be left in place after project completion for use by the landowner. The entire project is anticipated to last approximately 10 days and disturb 0.18 acres. DEQ would require all disturbances except the road to be reclaimed.

The proposed exploration project would take place within the former mine operation boundary and a small area would be located within a reclaimed area of the former mine. The applicant has been notified of the Comprehensive Environmental, Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) which is the law that governs Superfund sites. Superfund remediation at the former mine site was led by the Bureau of Land Management and they have also been notified of the proposed project.

This is the second proposed exploration project in this area. DEQ released a final EA in February of 2021 for a proposed exploration project from Blue Arc. That project would extract a 1,000-ton bulk sample and disturb 1.4 acres. The applicant is required to post bond before receiving a license to begin exploration activities. At this time, DEQ has not received bond for that project.

Both projects are considered in the cumulative impacts section of the new EA.

The EA claims that impacts to air quality would be short-term and minor, with direct impacts from dust particulates and exhaust fumes. No secondary air quality impacts are expected.

Land disturbance at the site could lead to short-term increase in noxious weeds, but the EA says the impact would not be significant.

The EA states that, “all disturbance related to this project would be reclaimed at the conclusion of the project.”

The public comment period will conclude on January 11th.

Comments can be mailed to:

DEQ Mining Bureau
Whitney Bausch
PO Box 200901
Helena, MT 59620-0901

Comments can also be submitted by email to:

Courtesy of the DEQ

1 Comment

  1. To Whom It Concerns,
    The fact that the MT DEQ is even considering an exploration permit for the Zortman-Landusky Superfund site demonstrates at best profound stupidly and at worse woeful disregard for the lives of Montana citizens that have been detrimentally impacted by the Superfund site. This proposal needs to be terminated ASAP. Montana tax dollars already go to cleanup the environmental devastation wrought by corporate greed on behalf of Phil Baker and Pegasus Gold and the agency responsible for protecting the public is considering permitting another project. How damn stupid are you? MTDEQ continually demonstrates complete disregard for Montana people, communities, and environment all the while proclaiming fealty to corporate carpetbaggers and moneyed politicians. This project is beyond stupid, it is an egregious assault on the Fort Belknap Indians. The fact MT DEQ didn’t even consult with the tribe demonstrates the profound racist tendencies of the agency. MT DEQ is an abomination and whoever brought this project forward needs to be terminated.

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