Mining exec blasts rival firm
by Brent Shrum, Kootenai Valley Record
February 13, 2008
The head of the company looking to open a copper and silver mine under the Cabinet Mountains south of Libby is taking off the gloves in a simmering feud with a rival mining firm.
During a well-attended luncheon hosted by Mines Management Inc. last Tuesday in the Ponderosa Room at Libby City Hall, company president and chief executive officer Glenn Dobbs accused Revett Minerals – which operates the Troy Mine and is looking to open another mine at Rock Creek near Noxon – of acting like “an anti-mining environmental group” and attempting to sabotage MMI’s proposed Montanore Mine.
Revett has challenged the validity of permits issued for the Montanore project in 1993, when the mine was being developed by Noranda Minerals, Dobbs said. Noranda mothballed the project due to falling metals prices and eventually walked away. The permits were acquired by Mines Management in 2006.
While the Montanore project is moving ahead, challenges from Revett cost MMI about six months and $250,000 last year, Dobbs said.
“Throughout 2007 we were continuing to have to deal with this,” he said.
Dobbs accused “some folks associated with our friends across the mountains” with arguing to the Forest Service that Mines Management should be required to prepare an environmental impact statement to allow continued use of Libby Creek Road, which accesses the mine tunnel built by Noranda and reopened by MMI in 2006.
“The question is, why would they do this?” Dobbs said. “Because this is unheard of in the mining industry.”
There is typically a high level of cooperation when two mining companies find themselves working side by side, Dobbs said. He said he’s been asked why MMI and Revett can’t work together. Revett officials have said their Mines Management counterparts won’t talk to them, Dobbs said, but he told the crowd at last week’s luncheon that there have been more than 40 meetings between the two companies.
“It isn’t because of lack of communication,” Dobbs said. “We believe it is because of a different corporate culture between the two companies.”
After the delays and costs incurred last year, Dobbs said he made the decision to stop being gentlemanly and to defend his company.
He accused people with “ulterior motives” of spreading rumors that regulatory agencies will only allow one mine under the Cabinets.
“The fact of the matter is there could very well be, could easily be, two mining projects in the Cabinet Mountains,” he said.
Over the past year, Mines Management has been moving ahead on two separate tracks, one to move through the permitting process and the other to begin an evaluation drilling program that will provide data for a bankable feasibility study, Dobbs said.
A draft environmental impact statement is expected to go out for public review late this spring, with a final EIS to be issued around the end of the year, Dobbs said. He said that means permits could be issued to fully green-light the project by the spring of 2009.
Dobbs expressed confidence in fundraising for the project which included a $10 million investment by Silver Wheaton, a mining firm headquartered in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Eight people are currently working at the mine site, Dobbs said. He said that will be ramped up to 25 to 30 people once work begins to rehabilitate the tunnel.
Up to 500 people are expected to be employed during construction, with 300 to 400 working at the mine when it is in full-scale production. The lifespan of the mine is projected at a minimum of 15 years.
Editor’s Note: See the February 11, 2008 edition of the Kootenai Valley Record for the printed version of this story. The Kootenai Valley Record publishes once a week, on Monday, in Libby, Montana. They are a locally owned community newspaper, located at 403 Mineral Avenue in Libby. For in-county and out-of-county subscription information, call 406-293-2424, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.