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Report: MT Gold Mine Pollution - Some Things Never Change

December 8, 2006

Butte, MT - Montana's gold mining pollution history is part of a new report that shows mining company promises need more scrutiny. It shows plans for new mines and expansions this year are on pace to set a record as companies look to cash in on high gold prices.

Montana's experience with gold and silver mines is noted in the report as a warning that, even though mining companies always promise not to pollute, they almost always do. Mining engineer Jim Kuipers of Butte is one of the report's coauthors.

"The Zortman Landusky Mine in Montana has resulted in highly significant impacts to groundwater and surface water, despite predictions that no such impacts would occur."

Environmental engineer Ann Maest is the report's other coauthor. She says when mines are planned, they're rarely realistic when it comes to pollution, even though proof of the problem exists at current mining sites.

"The predictions made about water quality in environmental impact statements are often too rosy. More work needs to be done to assess and improve predictions at mine sites."

Kuipers says there are things that can be done to make mines safer, like better investigation of geologic science before construction, and siting mines away from water sources. Mining companies say they have new technologies to reduce the likelihood of pollution.

The full report can be viewed online, at

Deborah Smith/Eric Mack, Public News Service - MT