Let’s say – just hypothetically – that there was a mining company out there run by people who could guarantee that a small mine wouldn’t cause any environmental problems. This is obviously hypothetical because no such company or mine exists. If it did, it would be good, but there would be no guarantee that company would own the mine throughout its lifetime. In the world of capitalism, mining and fluctuating metal prices, mines often swap hands and nothing guarantees that the new owner will have the same priorities.

For instance, Freeport-McMoRan, Inc., mostly a U.S. company owned the Tenke copper project in the Democratic Republic of Congo. But as reported in this Reuter’s story, because “copper prices are languishing near seven-year lows due to a supply glut,” Freeport-McMoRan is in financial trouble. So it is selling the Tenke project to a Chinese company, China Molybdenum Co Ltd, for $2.65 billion in cash.

“Freeport, like other big miners, has been selling assets to cut debt, while China has been snapping up commodity assets around the world to feed its massive economy.

So Montanans need to ask themselves, what would stop Tintina Resources, which has already partly sold out to an Australian company, from selling the Black Butte mine to the Chinese? For all of Tintina’s claims of wanting to use good practices – and at this point, they are just claims – they could change overnight if some other company takes over.