Shares in silver producer Hecla Mining (NYSE:HL) fell on Tuesday after it became public that a judge in the US state of Montana overturned the water permit approval for the company’s proposed Rock Creek mine.
The licence would have allowed Hecla to pump groundwater to supply the proposed copper and silver mine in the Cabinet Mountain Wilderness, an area of glaciated peaks and valleys that take their name from the area’s box-like rock formations.
Earthjustice, which filed suit over the permit on behalf of the Clark Fork Coalition, Rock Creek Alliance, Earthworks and the Montana Environmental Information Center, contend the company’s own analysis shows a major groundwater pumping effort would permanently dewater streams in the area, vital to wildlife like grizzly bears and wolverines.
“The court’s ruling safeguards some of the purest waters in the lower 48 from the destructive impacts threatened by the Rock Creek mine,” Earthjustice attorney Katherine O’Brien, said in a statement.
Luke Russell, vice president of external affairs for Hecla Mining, told Daily Inter Lake the company was concerned the judge’s decision could “greatly expand” what the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation must consider when weighing whether to award a water-use permit.
Montana officials said they would challenge the ruling, adding that it would not impact planned exploratory work at the mine site, located northeast of Noxon.
The company’s stock was down 1.32% to $2.22 at 11:45 am E.T.
The Idaho-based firm grabbed the Rock Creek in 2015 with the acquisition of Revett Mining Company. The project is located about 80 km north of the company’s Lucky Friday mine in Idaho.
Hecla is also pursuing development of another large silver and copper mine, Montanore, in northwest Montana.