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Mine lobby group to see governor

| February 10, 2005 11:00 PM

A Libby contingent is organizing to lobby Gov. Brian Schweitzer on Tuesday, Feb. 15, in Helena to speed up the permitting process for the proposed Montanore Mine.

A bus load of community people will leave Libby at 5:30 a.m. on Tuesday. There is room for 44 people on the bus.

³We will be supporting resolutions in support of the Montanore Mine and asking him to help expedite the review process,² said County Commissioner Rita Windom. ³It is currently anticipated by DEQ to take 24 months but realistically could be accomplished in 12.²

Mines Management Inc of Spokane has revised plans for the silver and copper mine first proposed by Noranda Minerals of Canada in the early 1990¹s. Noranda¹s applications were fully approved by state and federal agencies but the mining giants pulled out because of declining metal mine prices.

Noranda had completed 14,000 feet of exploration adit before calling it quits. That adit begins where Libby Creek exits the Cabinet Mountains. It is estimated to be 2,000 feet short of the deposit.

Once construction of the mine begins, two parallel tunnels will be dug beginning at the mouth of nearby Ramsey Creek. The tailings will be piled near Little Cherry Creek, just south of Cable Creek.

Mines Management proposes to pick up where Noranda left off with some adjustments to the former proposal. The modified mining plan considers changes to ramp access, crusher location and other similar mine infrastructure.

One substantial change to the previous plan calls for a reduction in the proposed initial mining rate to 12,500 tons per day, which allows for more flexibility in the mining sequence and equipment selection, according to a project description published by the company.

Company officials anticipate providing work for 200 to 250 people in the early phases of the mine with a payroll of $10 million. The operations could expand to extract more ore per day and employ 425 to 450 people with a payroll of $25 million annually.

Estimated life of the project ranges from 15 years to 30-45 years.

Community members interested in participating in the lobby effort by riding the bus to Helena, may call Chris at Libby City Hall, 293-2731.

Pastries and rolls will be served on the bus and after the noon meeting with Schweitzer, there will be a catered luncheon at Jorgenson¹s restaurant with some of the legislators. The bus is scheduled to depart Helena at 3 p.m. with arrival in Libby estimated at 9 p.m.

All expenses are being covered by Mines Management.