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Forest officials seek comment on Libby Creek mining

by The Western News
| June 4, 2024 7:00 AM

The Libby Ranger District is seeking public comment regarding the activities being proposed under the Libby Creek Mining Operations Project. 

This project is located 23 miles south of Libby, Montana and will only address activities on the Kootenai National Forest. The project is addressing two Plans of Operation the Libby Ranger District has received to conduct small-scale mineral exploration activities in the Libby Creek drainage, near two already existing mining operations.  

The Kootenai National Forest is preparing an Environmental Assessment (EA) under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) for the project and invites citizens to provide comments and express concerns regarding the project before decision are made. 

The proposal includes temporary road construction and road storage. 

Claim 1, the Ponderora Placer, is located one-half mile south of the Libby Creek Recreational Gold Panning Area. It would disturb three acres of land and 0.54 miles of temporary road. It is located in SE ¼, Section 11, Township 27 North, Range 31 West P.M.M. in Lincoln

County, Montana.

This proposed operation is for exploration purposes. If the test pits prove to contain sufficient gold to warrant development, a new gold placer operating plan will be submitted.

Operators would work from June 1 to Sept. 30 of each year. All operations will cease and final reclamation will take place in October of 2028. Annual reclamation will take place before the end of each operating season.

The operator will clear/create 0.54 miles of new road within BMU 5 and install a gate at the beginning of new road to restrict access to authorized personnel only. The access will be through an existing claim and current mining operation.

A maximum of 12 test pits will be dug over a three year period. It is estimated that each pit will have an estimated surface disturbance of 2,500 square feet. Three ponds will be dug with a diameter of about 20 feet and a depth of four to five feet. These ponds will be used to access and store water. The total surface disturbance will occur within an area of three acres.

Material will be hauled from each test pit to a trommel for processing. Water will be pumped, using a small gas pump and one inch hose, from the ponds to the trommel and re-circulated into the ponds.

One to three cubic yards of material will be processed through the trommel an hour, while operating.

The Northwest Montana Gold Prospectors (NWMGP) Ace Placer would disturb less than one acre of land adjacent to their current operation and is located in SE ¼, Section 11, Township 27 North,

Range 31 West P.M.M. in Lincoln County, Montana. 

All new proposed actions are within the same claim boundary and adjacent to current approved operations.

Operators propose to create a new access route that is 19-feet wide by 45-feet long. The test dig site will be an area of 35-feet by 75-feet with a dug trench of 12-feet x 12-feet x 70-feet.

The equipment used in this operation will be an excavator and dump truck.

For more information on the project and how to comment, please visit the project website at https://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=65512 

Comments are most helpful if received by June 18.

For questions, please contact the Libby Ranger District at 406-293-7773.