Tintina Resources resubmits operating permit application for Montana copper mine

Vancouver-based Tintina Resources (CVE:TAU) has just re-submitted its mine operating permit application for the Black Butte Copper project in Montana, US.

The company had presented an initial application to the state’s Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) in December of 2015, but three months later received a 60-page deficiency notice.

The move comes about six months after Montana's environmental officials said Tintina's application was insufficient.

Tintina’s project is located north of White Sulphur Springs and it will employ pasted backfill underground and cemented tailings on the surface, which the company says is a more expensive feature than a traditional tailings pond and increases capital costs, but minimizes the overall footprint of its operations. The process leaves only 1-2% of the mine open at any time.

They will also use reverse osmosis to treat wastewater, which will be released into an underground filtration system.  

But the DEQ and environmental groups such as Montana Trout Unlimited and American Rivers were not convinced by the company’s explanations. They all expressed concerns about the potential impacts from tailings, particularly since the proposed location for the mine sits atop Sheep Creek, a tributary to the Smith River. That water stream is a renowned wild trout fishing and floating destination.

Source: Tintina Resources.

Source: Tintina Resources.

However, the Canadian company — partially owned by Australian investors — has said that Black Butte is far enough from both Sheep Creek and the Smith River. In detail, the mine will sit one mile away from the former and 12 miles away from the latter.

Jerry Zieg, VP of Exploration and a local geologist who began mapping the area more than 10 years ago, said in a press release: "This is where I grew up, so I am proud to be part of a project that protects traditional uses of our watershed, fits well in my community and safeguards the environment."

The company states that, although key aspects remain unchanged, their mine operating permit application is stronger now thanks to the questions posed by the Department of Environmental Quality.

The DEQ has 30 days to review the new document. If all matters have been addressed, the agency would issue an environmental impact statement, which precedes its decision to grant operating permits to the Black Butte project.

Tintina hopes to begin construction in 2018. According to the global Measured & Indicated, resource at Black Butte is 15.7 million tonnes at 3.4% copper.

Even though copper prices have been giving miners headaches throughout the year, futures started to move higher in mid-September, with the December contract gaining 2.55%, closing at $2.155 a pound.

Miners also expect demand to increase in the coming months, as copper is widely used in different segments of the renewable energy industry such as windmill and electric car production.

However, some analysts are unconvinced that better times lie ahead as inventories climb and supply grows strongly.