Your Montana Public Radio
Commentary - February 6th, 2014
Fri February 7, 2014
Black Butte Copper Project
Good Afternoon, my name is Jerry Zieg and I’m the Vice President of Exploration for Tintina Resources, and a graduate of the University of Montana. Tintina Resources is a mineral exploration and mining company working through the process of permitting a copper mine on what we call our Black Butte Copper Project near White Sulphur Springs, Montana.
This is a very exciting project for me to work on for a few reasons. First, it is an exceptional opportunity to showcase the fact that current regulations and modern mining practices can successfully protect the environment. Second, I’ve studied the fascinating geology of the area since the 1970’s, and my work there helped lead to the 1985 discovery of the copper deposits. Finally and most importantly, I grew up in Meagher County on a ranch on the Smith River - we lived on the river for 25 years - and it is wonderful working on a project that will enhance my home community.
The question I would like to discuss with you today is:
“What does mining in the 21st Century look like?”
Our company and its Black Butte Copper Project are a good example of modern mine development. Why? Let us take the example of the recent Montana Department of Environmental Quality approval for an exploration decline (or tunnel) for the “Johnny Lee copper deposit” at Black Butte. The Montana DEQ has oversight of this activity, and we found they required a very thorough evaluation process including safeguards developed in part from public sector input.
In my career, I’ve watched Montana continually evolve toward strengthened regulation and oversight of mining projects in order to better protect the state’s water quality and wildlife habitat. Today’s mining companies must set aside ample bond money to make certain Montana taxpayers aren’t saddled with any future reclamation or water treatment costs. To compliment these changes, Montana’s private sector has developed a top-drawer contingent of scientists, engineers and specialists renowned for their expertise in putting together mine plans that combine common sense and the best available technology to tackle environmental issues before they arise.
All these things – more robust and thoughtful regulatory oversight, improved technical expertise and evolving environmental values – let the public sector and the private sector work together to help Montana support natural resource development while providing environmental protections. At Black Butte, we will also have the advantage of the small footprint of an underground mine. Our extensive studies of surface and ground water chemistry and rock chemistry will allow us to design an operation which can successfully manage any issues that arise.
Coupled with our 21st century technology is our 21st century vision of “Doing it Right from the Beginning”. Our company is taking extra steps to ensure our underground copper project provides good-paying jobs while protecting the scenery, the water and access to the area that people of this region cherish. Providing family wage jobs while protecting the environment is best path forward for us all and sets the stage for the next century of mining in Montana.
Thank you for listening.