Montana’s Smith River is a remarkable place.  Located in west-central Montana, the Smith River drainage is a location of great recreational, ecological and cultural value.  While most of the land in the Smith River drainage is privately owned, the U.S. Forest Service and State of Montana own the balance. Public access to the river is limited. It is the only river in Montana that has a lottery and requires a recreational permit to float the corridor.

The Smith River is under threat. In 2014, a foreign owned mining company, Sandfire Resources, Inc. applied for a copper mine exploration permit on a major headwater tributary to the Smith River, Sheep Creek. Sandfire proposes to mine in a sulphide ore body, which makes this mine a high risk for producing acid mine drainage.  Acid mine drainage is environmentally devastating and requires permanent water treatment. In March 2019, Montana DEQ released a Final EIS which intends to permit the mine. Montana Trout Unlimited, Trout Unlimited, and a coalition of partner organizations are now examining legal recourse to this decision.

The EIS public comment period is now closed to official comments, we encourage friends of the Smith to send letters to the editor of your local newspaper, or a Montana paper if you live outside of Montana. You can also write to the MT Governor Steve Bullock and the Department of Environmental Quality. Follow this link for talking points and guidance for making your letter more impactful, as well as contact information for the Governor’s Office and DEQ. 



DEQ takes legal action for mine reclamation funds

The struggle over who pays for the reclamation of a Lewistown-area mine has moved into the courts. The CR Kendall Corporation filed for bankruptcy protection in November, but it has yet to finish restoration work on the CR Kendall Mine north of Lewistown in the North Moccasin Mountains. So last week, the Montana Department of Environmental Quality  asked the court not to let the company out of an obligation to pay $6.2 million for the remainder of the mine reclamation. (more…)


Modern mining: Canada’s reckless mining legacy

Although the archaic 1872 Mining Act allows U.S. mining companies to get away with a lot, Canada's laws are even worse when it comes to holding mining companies accountable. Tintina Resources is based in Canada. Not only that, but it's based in British Columbia where an auditor general recently issued a report that slammed British Columbia's mines monitoring and inspection program. (more…)


The “richest acre” is Camp Baker

For "Throwback Thursday" - a social-media thing where people post about things in the past - Tintina Resources posted a photo of a Montana historic-point sign informing travelers about the Smith River Valley. Tintina Resources loved that the sign says the Smith River Valley contained the "richest acre of ground in the world" if you were one of the 1960s gold-placer crowd. While the claim is debatable - no source is given for the quote and the world is a pretty big place - the Smith River Valley does still contain a rich acre. That would be Camp Baker, where each year about 5,500 river lovers gather over the course of about seven months to launch on their own adventures of the Smith River. (more…)


Modern mining? Company sell-outs

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. (more…)

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