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The Montana Supreme Court takes up permitting for Black Butte copper project

Conservation groups maintain the state hasn’t done enough to protect the Smith River and its tributaries

The legal fight over the Montana Department of Environmental Quality’s approval of a central Montana copper mine made an appearance in the Montana Supreme Court Wednesday. During an hour-long hearing, justices dove deep into weedy regulatory issues focusing on the safety of storing mine tailings and how the mine is expected to influence water quality in Sheep Creek, a tributary of the Smith River.

The Black Butte Mine, which is expected to produce 14.5 million tons of high-grade copper over its 13-year operational life, is the focus of the lawsuit. After finishing a multi-year review and produ...


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