Tribe, conservation groups join DEQ to analyze new Zortman mining

Conservation groups and the Fort Belknap Indian Community have joined the Montana Department of Environmental Quality in opposing a mining company’s bid to conduct exploration mining in the Little Rocky Mountains with less rigorous environmental review than the agency wants. 

Luke Ployhar and Owen Voigt, and their mining company, Blue Arc LLC, are fighting a decision by the DEQ to conduct an environmental impact statement, or EIS, for proposed exploration mining near the Zortman-Landusky Mine site in eastern Montana. Under the National Environmental Policy Act, an EIS is the most comprehensive study of a proposed action and its impacts, particularly impacts that cannot be mitigated.

The Bureau of Land Management on Sept. 9 implemented a 20-year withdrawal of 2,688.13 acres of land from eligibility for new mining claims. The land, outlined in orange on this map, had previously been withdrawn from 2000–2020 to facilitate reclamation and water treatment at the Zortman-Landusky Mine site. 

Courtesy of the Bureau of Land Management

Ployhar appealed the DEQ decision to conduct an EIS to the Board of Environmental Review. In a motion to intervene submitted Friday, the Fort

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