DEQ Press Releases

Davin, Moira

DEQ Releases Draft Environmental Assessment for a Proposed Exploration Mining Project in Phillips County

HELENA—The Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is seeking public comment on a draft Environmental Assessment (EA) for a proposed exploration mining project near Zortman, Mont. in Phillips County. The draft EA is specific to a new exploration project proposed by Blue Arc LLC at the former Zortman Mine.

DEQ received an application for an exploration license from the landowner, Blue Arc LLC, on March 3, 2020, to extract a 1,000-ton bulk sample from a single trench site at an exposed highwall of the former Zortman Mine. The sample would then be shipped for testing at a facility in Nevada to determine the quality for potential future mining activities. The entire proposed project would be located on private land and disturb about 1.4 acres.

On Oct. 7, 2020, the Bureau of Land Management proposed a mineral withdrawal of the public lands in the Zortman-Landusky Mine Reclamation Area to protect the area from new mining claims or sites for an additional 20-year period, subject to valid existing rights. The proposed project in DEQ’s draft EA is on private lands and therefore would not be subject to this proposed mineral withdrawal. The proposed exploration activities from Blue Arc LLC would only disturb approximately 0.04 acre of reclaimed mining area and the proposal includes mitigation measures to minimize any substantive impacts to this reclaimed area.

In addition to the bulk sample trench, Blue Arc LLC would use an existing access road and then construct an approximately one-mile haul road to access the trench area and other temporary stockpile areas. All disturbances would be reclaimed except for the new access road as it would be kept for use by the private landowner.

DEQ prepared a draft EA to analyze potential impacts from the proposed project. DEQ will accept public comments on the draft EA until end of business on Monday, Nov. 30, 2020. To submit substantive comments or view the document, please visit the DEQ website at:

Comments can be submitted by email to: Written comments may also be submitted by mail to Jake Mohrmann, Hard Rock Mining Program, Montana DEQ, PO Box 200901, Helena, MT 59620-0901.

If a proposed project meets the requirements of Montana law (82-4-332, Montana Code Annotated), DEQ must issue the exploration license. The draft EA is not a decision document and is a disclosure of the potential impacts from the project.

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