HELENA—The Montana Department of Environmental Quality has issued its initial, Increment #1, reclamation bond determination for the Development Phase 1 activities proposed by Tintina Montana, Inc., on the Black Butte Copper Project. Tintina must submit a reclamation bond sufficient to cover the cleanup costs of the corresponding Development Phase 1 disturbance before the final Hard Rock Mining Operating Permit is issued. Tintina proposes to construct, operate, and reclaim a new underground copper mine located approximately 15 miles north of White Sulphur Springs in Meagher County, Mont.
Incremental bonding is an option allowed for permittees by state law. Permittees may request incremental bonding, provided that their applicable plan identifies phases or increments of disturbance which may be calculated, and provided that DEQ holds adequate bond to address any actual disturbance that exists on the site.
The initial bond determination focuses on the reclamation costs for the disturbance created by the Development Phase 1 construction activities. The Development Phase 1 construction activities include preparation of the following features: portal pad, temporary waste rock storage pad, cemented tailings facility borrow area, brine contact water pond impoundment, roads, stockpiles (soil, subsoil, reclamation) and laydown areas. DEQ’s Incremental Bond #1, for the Development Phase 1 construction disturbance, is $4,653,348.
As a future action, DEQ will issue a bond determination (Increment #2 Bond) that focuses on the reclamation costs for the disturbance created by Development Phase 2 construction activities, mining phase construction and all other approved mining activities. Tintina will be required to submit the corresponding Increment #2 Bond before it is allowed to move into Development Phase 2 construction, mining phase construction, or other approved mining activities.
“The bond for the Phase 1 activities at the Black Butte Mine has been carefully calculated by the DEQ financial assurance experts,” said DEQ Director Shaun McGrath. “Additionally, we will review the amount periodically to ensure the state has the resources to complete reclamation of these activities, if that becomes necessary.”
Following issuance of the operating permit, the bond amount will be generally reviewed every year and comprehensively reviewed at least every five years to ensure site conditions and mine development are appropriately addressed in the bond calculation and ultimately in the bond held by DEQ. Montana state law does not prescribe public engagement or public notice on the initial bond determination. However, bond calculations for comprehensive five-year reviews provide an opportunity for public review and comment.
Bond determination is a robust process to ensure bond amounts are sufficient to cover the cost to reclaim the land disturbance caused by the project. Calculations are based on DEQ’s best estimates of the engineering costs to complete the approved reclamation plan and reasonably foreseeable activities conducted in compliance with the operating permit. Estimates are generated based on the specifics of each mine operation and factors such as the size of the land disturbance, haul distances, soil and ore types, the predictability of short- or long-term water impacts from the operation, among others.
More information on the project is available for the public to view by visiting DEQ’s website at: http://deq.mt.gov/Land/hardrock/tintinamines