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FACTS

Black Butte Copper Project

History

The Black Butte Copper property consists of approximately 12,800 acres of both long-term mining leases on private ranch lands and 100%-owned federal mining claims.  The property has maintained gravel road access and is within two miles of an all-weather highway.  The property is also near a high-voltage power line and is 50 miles from rail service.

The Black Butte Copper Project site has long held interest and modern exploration has been ongoing since the early 1970’s.  Homestake Mining explored the property in 1973 and 1974. Cominco American, Inc. (Cominco) conducted exploration from 1976 through 1985, and joint ventured the property with BHP from 1985 through 1988.

Tintina has been conducting exploration since September 2010 as permitted and bonded by the Montana Department of Environmental Quality.

The Issue

The Montana Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) has jurisdiction to approve and regulate the Black Butte Copper Project. 

MDEQ has completed an Expanded Checklist Environmental Assessment of Tintina request to modify their existing exploration license to include three new aquifer pump tests and recently opened a 21-day comment period that ends on July 21, 2014.

The MDEQ has offered an alternative that would approve of the proposed pump testing with a modification that states: In the event that prolonged rainfall during the pumping tests precludes discharge to the LAD area at agronomic rates for a period longer than the water can be contained in the holding pond, Tintina would either temporarily store excess water in tanks or interrupt the pumping test.

Tintina supports this modified alternative.

The Draft EA is available on the MDEQ website at http://deq.mt.gov/pubcom.mcpx (this will open a new window/tab).  The complete document is available for your review on this web site.

DRAFT ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT FOR THE BLACK BUTTE COPPER PROJECT


Quick Facts on the Black Butte Copper Project

Overview

Exploration activities at the Black Butte Copper Project have been previously approved under Exploration License #00710.

  • The proposed aquifer tests would provide a more quantitative understanding of the interaction between stratigraphically controlled (layered) groundwater aquifers and surface water within the project area, and allow evaluation of the bulk permeability of shallow hydrostratigraphic units.  These data would then be used to predict impacts of the potential future mining of the copper deposit on surface water and groundwater quantity and quality.  
  • The proposed action includes conducting aquifer tests on three new pumping wells as well as water quality/water level monitoring of the three test wells and a new monitoring well in conjunction with ongoing monitoring of existing wells.  Long-term aquifer tests (up to 30 day duration) would be conducted in specific areas above and in the mineralized zone.
  • Up to 15 other wells and piezometers in the project area, as well as surface water and spring monitoring sites, would be monitored during the aquifer tests.   
  • Water discharged from the test wells would be diverted to a lined holding pond capable of storing a volume equal to 110% of the maximum volume pumped during a 24 hour period.  Water from the pond would be disposed of through a LAD (land application) system covering 40 acres at rates that would not exceed agronomic uptake (evapotranspiration) rates, resulting in zero discharge to groundwater or surface water.     
  • The aquifer tests would be conducted during the 2014 growing season.  If the tests are not completed during the growing season then Tintina would proceed with construction of a contingency storage pond that can contain all of the water to be produced from the aquifer pumping test.  The pond would be designed to hold the anticipated volume of water from testing plus an additional foot of freeboard.   This water would be disposed of later on in the same manner as proposed during warmer months.   
  • Reclamation Plan: The reclamation plan includes reseeding as necessary and follow up weed control monitoring and treatment if required, as well as removal of the storage pond(s) and plugging of the wells.  During construction of any of the facilities (ponds, drill pads, etc.) needed for this proposal, all topsoil will be stockpiled for later use in reclaiming those sites.  All disturbances will be recontoured to a stable and suitable landform, covered with the salvaged topsoil and revegetated using a Department-recommended seed mix suitable for the post-mined land use of grazing and wildlife habitat.  All equipment used for the LAD system (main line, trunk lines, and fixtures) will be removed after all water from the aquifer tests has been discharged to the LAD system. 

Impacts:

In its Expanded Check List Environmental Assessment evaluating the proposed Aquifer Pump Tests, the Montana DEQ concluded there will be:

  • No impacts to wildlife
  • No impacts to aquatic habitat
  • No impacts to endangered species, as none reside in the permit area
  • No impacts to plant species of concern, as none were identified in the area
  • No impacts to air quality
  • No impacts to any historical or archeological sites as none are in the pump test area
  • No impacts to surface water
  • No impacts to groundwater quality and minimal short-term impacts to groundwater quantity
  • No significant impacts to vegetation cover quantity and quality
  • No impacts to the aesthetics of the area
  • No impacts on the human population of the area except for small increments of state and local taxes generated by the purchase of supplies.

Additional Information:

  • Tintina has spent over $20 million exploring the Black Butte project in the last three years;
  • Tintina has located over one billion pounds of copper so far;
  • Tintina has a very good reclamation record, having re-contoured and re-seeded all of its drill sites for 169 holes so far drilled;
  • Tintina’s activities are entirely on private ranch lands;
  • The Black Butte Copper Project is privileged to employ several Meagher County present and past residents.  These Montana natives know and appreciate the area and share the desire of their friends and neighbors to conduct its operations with the utmost consideration for their neighbors and their environment.
  • The MDEQ has offered an alternative that would approve of the proposed pump testing with a modification that states: In the event that prolonged rainfall during the pumping tests precludes discharge to the LAD area at agronomic rates for a period longer than the water can be contained in the holding pond, Tintina would either temporarily store excess water in tanks or interrupt the pumping test.  Tintina supports this modified alternative and asks that you considering supporting it as well.

Comment Period - Ends July 21st!

Time Left to Comment:

 

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