Landowner worried tailings dam at East Boulder Mine could fail

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Leon Royer looks over construction at the East Boulder Mine on Thursday, Sept. 9, about 30 miles south of Big Timber. The ongoing construction is to prepare for raising the tailings pond dam’s walls by 14 feet. A possible dam breach has Royer, who lives downstream, concerned.

RYAN BERRY PHOTOS, Billings Gazette Brett French

Construction of a bigger dam to contain waste rock from the East Boulder Mine in south-central Montana has neighboring landowner Leon Royer concerned.

Should the dam fail, Royer said, the owners of the mine — South African company Sibanye-Stillwater — have done little to protect or help downstream landowners. Royer seeks evacuation plans for a breach, a back-up dam and bonded compensation if lands are buried under waste from the platinum and palladium mine.

Heather McDowell, vice president of legal, environmental and government affairs for Sibanye-Stillwater, wrote in an email that Royer’s concerns are unfounded.

“We are very proud of our tailings design and management and the community involvement that has gone into that over the years,” she said.


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