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Revett officials meet with governor on Rock Creek Mine

by Canda HarbaughWestern News
| October 29, 2009 12:00 AM

Officials from Revett Minerals met with Gov. Brian Schweitzer and his top economic adviser last week to discuss Troy Mine’s success in the face of low metal prices, and the company’s desire to proceed with Rock Creek, a proposed silver and copper mine located in the Cabinet Mountains between Libby and Noxon.

“We really felt it was our duty to make sure everyone in Helena was aware what Troy (Mine) achieved … to let them know that we are here to stay and our desire and ability to develop Rock Creek has not diminished,” said John Shanahan, Revett’s chief executive officer.

Schweitzer and Evan Barrett, chief business development officer for the governor’s Office of Economic Development, met with Shanahan; Carson Rife, Revett’s vice president of operations; and Tim Lindsey, chair of Revett’s board of directors.

“The message we wanted to get across to the governor was in the last year through all the economic difficulties, we never asked for a handout,” Shanahan said. “The only stimulus we received was the guys (at Troy Mine) taking a pay cut and working their backsides off.”

Schweitzer shared a positive view of Troy Mine.

“This is a mine that is owned by the local people,” Schweitzer said. “It’s not owned by some big foreign company. There are 185 jobs and people that work there are shareholders. This is a mine that is important to the community.”

Revett’s Rock Creek project continues to face legal challenges by environmental groups concerning endangered species and water quality issues. The case is in U.S. District Court pending a decision by Judge Donald Molloy concerning the project’s Records of Decision and Biological Opinion.

Court issues are out of the state’s hands, Schweitzer said, but the state and federal government has shown its support for the project by issuing all of the required permits.

“We’re on the record having been supportive of the (Rock Creek) mine,” Schweitzer said. “That record is because they have a mining plan that’s demonstrating that they will be able to do it right.”

Schweitzer said that like Troy Mine, Rock Creek would produce a clean ore body, free of toxins like pyrite that can acidify the water. It is also expected to employ 250-300 people.

Environmental groups such as Sandpoint, Idaho-based Rock Creek Alliance filed suits in spring 2008 against the U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for allegedly failing to follow federal laws to protect endangered grizzly bears and bull trout, as well as violating the Clean Water Air, when granting Revett permits to tunnel underneath the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness.