Conservation groups press to move Hecla Mining lawsuit to Helena

Posted at 8:34 PM, Apr 05, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-05 22:34:48-04

LIBBY – Conservation groups are pressing to become involved in a lawsuit questioning whether a Hecla Mining official should be banned from developing two new mines in Northwest Montana.

Last month, the Montana Department of Environmental Quality faulted Hecla President and CEO Phillip S. Baker Jr. for his involvement in the ill-fated Pegasus Gold operations in the Little Rocky Mountains. That company went bankrupt 20 years ago, leaving behind cyanide and other contamination at Zortman which cost the state millions.

Under the state’s “bad actor” laws, Baker, and by extension Hecla Mining, would have to pay millions of dollars in penalties before being allowed to develop the Montanore and Rock Creek Mines near Libby. The agency has given Baker 30 days to respond.

However, Hecla immediately challenged the complaint in Lincoln County District Court.

Now, a coalition of conservation groups is asking to intervene in the suit. DEQ is filing a motion to have the case moved from Lincoln County to Lewis and Clark County claiming jurisdiction.