DEQ accepting public comment on Golden Sunlight Mine bond

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HELENA – The Montana Department of Environmental Quality is accepting public comment on two actions related to the reclamation bonds held for Golden Sunlight Mine, Inc. The Golden Sunlight Mine is located in Jefferson County, approximately five miles northeast of Whitehall.

In the first action, Golden Sunlight has requested bond release for the reclamation of several waste rock dump areas, including the placement of growth media and seeding. The reclaimed areas total 367.8 acres. DEQ has inspected the reclamation and believes bond release is appropriate. DEQ is proposing a partial bond release of $9,783,031 million.

DEQ may not release or decrease a bond until the public has been provided an opportunity for a hearing and a hearing has been held if requested. Requests for a hearing on DEQ’s proposed bond release must be received by DEQ no later than Nov. 4, 2016.

In the second related action, DEQ is conducting a five-year comprehensive bond review for the mine and has determined that the current bonding level does not represent the present costs of compliance with the Metal Mine Reclamation Act, administrative rules and the company’s operating permit. DEQ is proposing a bond increase of $46,990,653 million (from $112,153,980 million to $159,144,633 million assuming the bond release proposed above). A major portion of the bond increase is the result of a change in the estimated interest and inflation rates used to calculate the long-term water treatment component of the reclamation bond. The proposed bond increase also reflects increased costs of equipment and personnel. Comments on the proposed bond increase must also be received by DEQ no later than Nov. 4, 2016.

Requests for a hearing on the proposed bond release, requests for copies of the bond calculation associated with the five-year comprehensive bond review, comments on the proposed bond release, and any questions should be directed to Herb Rolfes, Operating Permit Section Supervisor, Hard Rock Mining Bureau, Department of Environmental Quality, P.O. Box 200901, Helena, MT 59620-0901, 406- 444-3841 or by e-mail at hrolfes@mt.gov. The proposed bond calculation may also be viewed at the DEQ offices located at 1520 E. Sixth Ave., in Helena.

For more information or to set up an interview for this story, please contact Lisa Peterson, DEQ Public Information Officer, 406-444-2929 or lpeterson@mt.gov.

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