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Revett set to begin work at Rock Creek mine

| December 22, 2007 11:00 PM

A decision made by the U.S. Forest Service could mean Revett Minerals Inc., the Spokane, Wash.-based company pushing for the operation of the Rock Creek mine, may begin work on roads, power lines and a water treatment plant.

In 2003, the Forest Service and the Montana Department of Environmental Quality issued a record of decision giving the go-ahead for mining operations.

The decision was based in part on a federal analysis of possible impacts on protected species in the area, including grizzly bears. Environmentalists challenged the analysis and it was modified and re-released in October 2006.

The Forest Service eventually determined the analysis was acceptable and would remain in place. This gives Revett the permission to continue work toward opening the Rock Creek mine, however no mining, nor exploratory drilling can take place.

A lawsuit filed by conservationists and concerned citizens still needs to be settled and seeks to declare the 2003 decision flawed and void.

Also, the Montana Supreme Court was asked to insist on more regulations regarding a water permit for the proposed copper and silver mine in the Cabinet Mountain Wilderness in November.

The DEQ stated during oral arguments last month at the Montana Supreme Court in Helena that the project must be reviewed further before the mine could get the go ahead. The state claimed they followed the correct procedure to procure a water discharge permit.

Millions of gallons of water would be released once holes are dug for the mining operation. The water would be contaminated. Revett would have to ensure cleanup of the mine if they were to abandon it in the future.

The water would travel from the mine to the Clark Fork River and end in Lake Pend Oreille in Idaho.

However, in addition to the current victory for Revett, the mine has agreed to help in the recovery process of bear habitat and to purchase land to provide habitat for the grizzly bears. Revett has begun the process of habitat acres, new state wildlife positions, bear-proof garbage containers and long-term species monitoring.