HELENA–The Department of Environmental Quality is joining the Custer- Gallatin National Forest in determining the scope of an environmental review for exploration activity proposed by Lucky Minerals in the Emigrant Mining District.
The Custer Gallatin National Forest’s current scoping is for proposed exploration activities on National Forest System lands. With DEQ’s involvement, the scoping will be broadened to also include proposed exploration activities on private land. The proposed exploration activities on Forest Service and private lands are in close proximity and are of a similar nature.
“It makes sense for us to look at this as one project and work with the Forest Service for public involvement and determining the scope of the project,” said Tom Livers, Director of DEQ. The scoping comment period is open until August 20, 2015.
The new portion of the project includes Lucky Minerals’ proposal to drill up to 46 holes from 23 drill pads, two per pad, on private patented claims known as the St. Julian property in the Emigrant Mining District. The Emigrant Mining District is located in the Absaroka Mountains approximately seven miles east of Emigrant. The purpose of the drilling program is to explore for copper, gold, silver, and molybdenum deposits.
Once comments are received, DEQ and the Custer Gallatin National Forest will analyze feedback from the process and subsequently determine the appropriate level and scope of analysis. Information on the proposed exploration activity on private lands can be found at: http://deq.mt.gov Comments on the proposal should be submitted by August 20, 2015 to Craig Jones, DEQ Project Coordinator (P.O. Box 200901, Helena, MT 59620-0901), DEQMEPA@mt.govand/or Peter Werner, Forest Service Project Lead at Custer-Gallatin National Forest Supervisors Office (10 E. Babcock, Bozeman, MT 59715), FSemail@example.com All comments received, including names and addresses of those who comment, will be part of the public record and will be available for public inspection.
More project information specific to actions on private lands:
To keep disturbance to a minimum, all drill holes and associated sumps would be located within the previously disturbed prism of existing roads. The sumps would be used for collecting and disposal of wet drill cuttings. Lucky Minerals would use two drills running two ten-hour shifts per day. Night drilling would require the use of mobile lights similar to those used for night highway construction. Lucky Minerals estimates that a maximum of four drill sites would be in use at any one time. Each drill pad would be approximately 500 square feet in area, for a total approximate disturbance of 0.27 acre for the entire project. Results from this preliminary phase of the project would be used to model the subsurface geology and associated mineralization, if any.
For reclamation, when a drill pad has been fully utilized, the pad would be reclaimed to the previous condition. The sumps would be backfilled after any fluids contained in them have been allowed to dry. The reclaimed areas would be seeded with a native/alpine seed mix designed for the high elevation of these sites and monitored for the invasion of noxious weeds for a period of three years.
Two unplugged artesian (flowing) drill holes from a historic drilling program were observed on the access road. Based on this observation, DEQ and the Forest Service would require Lucky Minerals to plug the drill holes from the bottom up with bentonite, or similar compounds, and to cap the holes with cement. DEQ will hold sufficient bond to plug the holes expected to be active at any given time.