USFS and MDEQ seek comment on exploratory drilling for mining

The United States Forest Service and Montana Department of Environmental Quality are providing an opportunity for public review and comment on the Environmental Assessment for Stillwater Mining Company’s Iron Creek and West Fork Stillwater Plan of Operations for Mineral Exploration.
This Plan of Operations proposes exploratory drilling at up to thirty-six drill sites over a six year period in the Iron Creek area and a single drill site in the area of the West Fork of the Stillwater River. The purpose of the exploratory drilling is to evaluate the platinum group metal potential between the Stillwater and East Boulder Mines. Exploration activities are proposed on the Beartooth and Yellowstone Ranger Districts of the Custer Gallatin National Forest. The Iron Creek drill sites would be located on the Beartooth Plateau between the West Fork of the Stillwater River and the East Boulder River about 12 miles west of Nye, Montana. Road access to the project area is provided by the Picket Pin/Iron Mountain Road #2140 and the Horseman Flat/West Fork Stillwater Road #2846.
The Iron Creek drill sites would be helicopter supported with limited use of existing roads. The West Fork Stillwater site would be supported with ground-based vehicles using West Fork Stillwater Road #2846. Drill sites would be located at least 200 feet from surface waters and best management practices would be implemented to minimize erosion and surface water runoff. Areas impacted by exploration activities would be reclaimed. The drills would be operated 24 hours per day, 7 days a week requiring 20 to 25 people working in the area from late May through November each year. No mining, milling, or permanent facilities are being proposed.
The EA summarizes and discloses the effects of Stillwater Mining Company’s proposed action, an agency mitigated alternative and a no action alternative. As required by 36 CFR 218, specific written comments on the proposed project will be accepted for 30 calendar days following publication of a legal notice in the Billings Gazette. The publication date in the newspaper of record is the exclusive means for calculating the comment period timeframes. The Environmental Assessment, supporting information and information on how to comment are available online at:  http://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=48921. If you have information needs or questions, please contact the Beartooth Ranger District at 6811 US Highway 212, Red Lodge, MT, phone 406-446-2103.

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