Once again, Montana environmental officials have declined an application from Crevice Mining Group LLC to mine for gold outside Yellowstone National Park.
Further, officials said they will not continue reviewing the application until they feel their issues have been resolved adequately.
Last October, Crevice filed an application to perform “exploratory drilling” on a site near Jardine, Montana, five miles from Yellowstone’s northern border. The Montana Department of Environmental Quality rejected the application in April, citing concerns over the company’s permit plans.
Among the concerns raised: Crevice had a “small miner’s exclusion permit” for the site, which exempts mines with less than five acres of surface disturbance from the same permitting process of larger mines. This permit, for instance, has less extensive reclamation obligations, since the surface disturbance is smaller.
In their application, Crevice reported they hoped to combine the smaller mining project with the exploratory drilling project, which sparked concern from the DEQ that Crevice would use the small miner’s exclusion permit to avoid a reclamation bond on parts of the eventual mine.
We reported that Crevice had resubmitted their application in late July, after making next to no changes. Indeed, Crevice owner Michael Werner saying “there’s really no changes whatsoever in the scope of the vision.”
According to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, Crevice’s latest application is missing data on how the company will manage wastewater in the mine, and raised concerns regarding acid mine drainage and land disturbance:
Last week, DEQ sent the company a letter and 21 pages of comments that detail what changes or additional information it wants to see.
The letter said that the application didn’t adequately describe surface disturbance that will happen because of the project and that the company needed to gather baseline data on the resources that might be impacted.
DEQ also said in the letter that it wants more information about the chemical make-up of the rock Crevice will dig up. DEQ spokeswoman Lisa Peterson said in an e-mail that they are looking “for data about anything in the rock and material that might result in acid rock drainage or something similar.”
Michelle Uberuaga, the executive director of the Park County Environmental Council, said water seemed to be one of the most significant factors in the deficiency notice.
“My takeaway is water,” said Michelle Uberuaga, executive director of the Park County Environmental Council. “There are a lot of water issues.”
The letter also addressed several issues with water quality testing and the amount of water that will be used. The agency also asked for more detail on water treatment plans and wastewater disposal.
Werner told the Chronicle Crevice would review the letter, but said he believes the project will have a minimal impact on the environment. “The reality is there’s been over 100 years of mining up there with no damage,” Werner said.
Werner was referring to a mine run by TVX Gold Inc. on nearby Mineral Hill, which shuttered in the mid-1990s and pursued a similar project on the same site Crevice is applying to explore. Werner himself is a former TVX executive.