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Mineral exploration proposed in Benbow area of Beartooth Mountains

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Stillwater Mining Company (SMC) has submitted a proposal to the Custer National Forest to collect baseline data and complete an environmental characterization necessary to support potential future exploration permitting actions. Activities would include drilling and trenching for geotechnical purposes, installation of a water monitoring well, and completion of several studies of the natural resources in the area. Proposed activities would result in approximately 1 acre of ground disturbance.

The Forest Service is seeking public comment on this proposal on National Forest System lands adjacent to the old Benbow chromite millsite in the Little Rocky Creek area, 2 miles southwest of Dean, Montana (T.5 S; R.16 N; Sections 20 and 21). The Forest Service is responsible for approving or requiring modifications to SMC’s associated Plan of Operations in accordance with applicable mining and environmental law.

Dependent upon weather, activities could start as in late July and be completed by fall. Drill rigs for borehole drilling would be mobilized using helicopters and ground-based equipment. All areas disturbed by exploration operations would be reclaimed to prevent or control environmental damage and return the areas to a stable configuration similar to the original condition. No road construction is proposed.

In accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act, potential environmental impacts will be considered, analyzed, and disclosed before a decision is made to approve or require modifications to the plan of operations. Public comments will be used to determine the level of analysis and identify any issues relating to this proposal. Concerns or issues should display points of dispute or debate relevant to the plan of operations.

SMC will be hosting an informational meeting on this proposal at the Nye Fire Hall in Nye on July 19 at 6:30 p.m. SMC will present information and answer questions. Forest Service and Montana Department of Environmental Quality personnel will also be present to answer questions.

For further information on the proposal, to obtain a copy of the Plan of Operations, to provide public comment, or to be added to the mailing list for this project, please contact Dan Seifert at the Beartooth Ranger District, 6811 US Highway 212 South, Red Lodge, MT, 59068; by telephone at (406) 446-2103; or by email at: Comments or input addressing the plans of operations should be submitted by July 22.

All comments received, including names and addresses of those who comment, will be part of the public record on this proposal and will be available for public inspection. For more information on the Custer National Forest, visit us on the web at

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