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DEQ gives go-ahead to Troy mine

| November 16, 2004 11:00 PM

The state Department of Environmental Quality last week refused to stop Revett Silver Co. from moving ahead with plans to reopen the former Asarco mine near Troy, despite an environmental group¹s concerns about the permitting process, the project¹s reclamation bond and alleged buried barrels.

DEQ officials met in Helena on Friday with representatives of the Cabinet Resource Group at the group¹s request. The group opposed allowing Revett to reopen the mine under the permit issued to Asarco and sought to have the $10.1 million reclamation bond increased. The DEQ declined to halt the project because of either of those issues.

DEQ officials affirmed their earlier decision to allow Revett to operate under Asarco¹s permit as long as proof is shown of a legally binding agreement between the two firms, said Lincoln County Commissioner John Konzen, who led a delegation of local officials and economic development interests to the meeting.

³They said they have no control over who they contracted with,² Konzen said. ³That was Asarco¹s business.²

DEQ officials also said the reclamation bond is acceptable for now, but may need to be increased to cover proposed additional requirements regarding topsoil, Konzen said.

The Cabinet Resource Group previously filed suit to stop the mine project until barrels of unknown content that a former employee reported were buried at the site can be found. The court did not require Revett to stop activities at the site but gave CRG permission to look for the barrels on its own. CRG representatives at last week¹s meeting expressed concerns that the mining company should not be allowed to operate until the barrels are found.

³When asked if they opposed the restart of the Troy mine, they said Œuntil the barrel issue is resolved,¹² Konzen said.

Asarco closed the mine in 1993. With silver prices up, Revett currently has about 60 people working toward reopening the mine with plans to employ around 150 for three-and-a-half to five years if all goes well with permitting and fundraising.

³The only thing stopping them is making sure they have the money,² Konzen said.

The local group that traveled to Helena to support the project included Libby Mayor Tony Berget, Troy school superintendent Brady Selle and representatives of the Lincoln County Port Authority, Kootenai River Development Council and the local business community.

³We told them we want a balance,² Konzen said. ³We think it¹s important to have those jobs but we wouldn¹t sell our souls for those jobs.²