In two decisions, U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy ruled that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Forest Service (USFS) violated the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Water Act, the National Forest Management Act and the National Environmental Policy Act by approving the proposed Montanore mining operation that would be located near the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness in northwest Montana. Hecla acquired the Montanore project in September 2016 from Mines Management. Records of Decision (ROD) approving the evaluation phase of the project were issued by the USFS and the Montana Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) in February 2016. Construction and operational activities, according to Hecla, are contingent upon meeting terms of the permits.
“We are disappointed but not deterred with the court’s ruling,” said Luke Russell, Hecla Mining’s vice president for public affairs. Noting that the federal judge overturned parts of the approval, Russell said he also reaffirmed others, which leaves the door open to work with federal agencies to again get the green light to develop.