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Orchow's claims about mine lawsuit strain his credibility

| February 8, 2007 11:00 PM

To the Editor:

Mr. Orchow of Revett Minerals is certainly a creative and persuasive letter writer.

However, his assertion that his company should not be required to prepare a reclamation plan, as required by law, and that the public should just trust his assurances that Revett will not leave us with a toxic abandoned mine site, certainly strains his credibility.

Orchow's flurry of letters follows a lawsuit filed by the Cabinet Resource Group against the Montana Department of Environmental Quality. CRG has asked the court to direct DEQ to follow the law and require Revett to fund studies and an environmental impact statement to determine what steps reclamation will require in the end, and what it will cost. For seven years DEQ has been requesting Revett fund such a revised reclamation plan, and Revett has been stalling.

Mr. Orchow's recent letters have made much of the fact that the bond posted by his company to fund reclamation efforts was raised in 2005 from $2.4 to $10.1 million. He seems to imply this action was voluntary on the part of his company, and fails to mention that Revett posted the higher bond only after DEQ required them to do so. Unfortunately, even this bond amount is probably low, though this fact is impossible to verify because the bond amount is not based on a credible reclamation plan.

Mr. Orchow further states that the real goal of this lawsuit is to throw miners out of work. This is a predictable response from a company that has no credible reasons for trying to avoid reasonable regulation and oversight.

The mining industry in general, and the directors of Revett in particular have a long history of acquiring rights to public lands, removing valuable minerals, and leaving behind toxic and extremely expensive messes for the public to deal with.

There are many obvious parallels between this situation and the asbestos tragedy, where regulators were so accommodating of industry that they failed to take basic steps to protect the public interest. CRG hopes to prevent that from happening again.

Doug Ferrell