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Regulators consider mineral exploration request at site of former Zortman mine

Z-L 9-2021 Landusky mine 2.jpg
Katy Spence / Montana Environmental Information Center
The site of the former Zortman mine near Fort Belknap.

State regulators are considering whether to approve a mineral exploration license at the site of a former gold mine in north-central Montana.

The license request is the second Luke Ployhar with Blue Arc LLC has submitted to the state Department of Environmental Quality asking permission to check private land in Phillips County for minerals.

Potential development at the site has the attention of the neighboring Gros Ventre and Assiniboine Tribes of the Fort Belknap Indian Community. The Zortman Landusky Reclamation Area requires expensive and ongoing water treatment for pollution from acid mine drainage, cyanide, selenium, and nitrates.

Federal protections on the mine were allowed to lapse for two days last year.

During that time, Blue Arc submitted multiple mining claims, which tribes and environmental groups flagged in an October complaint to the U.S. Department of the Interior. The DEQ approved Blue Arc’s first exploratory license earlier this year and the environmental assessment for the new request is up for public comment.