BOZEMAN — Montana environmental regulators intend to review about 940 public comments and decide within three weeks whether to approve a proposal to dig test wells at the site of a planned copper mine near White Sulphur Springs.
A Tintina Resources subsidiary plans to apply for an operations permit for the Black Butte mining project, but first is asking state regulators for permission to drill four wells to test how pumping water for the mining operation will affect the groundwater table.
The planned mine has prompted concerns from environmental groups that the project will degrade water quality and possibly decrease the amount of water running through the watershed to the popular Smith River.
The comments were received after the Montana Department of Environmental Quality released an environmental assessment on Tintina’s proposal to pump water for 30 days to learn how quickly the water table drops.
DEQ spokesman Chris Saeger said officials plan to make a decision within two or three weeks because the company wants to complete the wells before winter.
Tintina vice president Jerry Zieg said he worked closely with DEQ officials on the plan and it would be remarkable if they turned it down.