Like most Montanans I was surprised when Tom Livers of the DEQ announced that Phillip Morgan of Hecla Mining Company was a Bad Actor. This Bad Actor law was proposed by Jim Jensen of the MEIC back in 1989 and was promoted to prevent someone who has no regard for the environment from operating another mine. Mr. Jensen approached Tom Livers with this law last year to postpone the development of the Rock Creek Mine. I was just as surprised that Mr. Livers took the bait.
I worked for Pegasus for 18 years at their Montana Tunnels Mine. The Montana Tunnels mine was an excellent example of an environmentally friendly mine. I have also worked for 11 years at the Troy Mine, another very environmentally friendly mine. Mining companies do not get to choose the challenges they will face in developing a mine, they must deal with whatever the deposit has in store for them. When Pegasus developed the Zortman-Landusky mine, the current Acid/Base accounting rules were in their infancy. When the State of Montana calculated the bond for the Zortman-Landusky mine, they too were also very new at calculating bonds. When Pegasus went bankrupt the bond was in place for the state to reclaim the mine. The combination of these two things made the reclamation at Zortman go over. There has been a lot of press about the taxpayers picking up the tab for this overrun, but the truth is that the majority was paid by Resource Indemnity Trust (RIT) funds.
During my time at Montana Tunnels, I do not remember Phillip Morgan being involved in the daily operation of the mine. In fact, I do not remember him ever coming to the mine site. Other corporate officials certainly did. I really believe that this current hubbub over bad actors is just another ploy by environmental extremists to delay or destroy mining. That is how they make their living. Montanans just need to be aware of this and do their own due diligence when it come to this kind of ridiculous nonsense.
Steve Lloyd, Hot Springs