The Latest: Gold mining proposal near Yellowstone advancesSource: Bozeman Daily Chronicle
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BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — The Latest on proposals to mine for gold and other minerals just north of Yellowstone National Park (all times local):
Montana environmental regulators say a Canadian company can move forward with plans to explore for gold in an area north of Yellowstone National Park despite local opposition.
The Montana Department of Environmental Quality on Wednesday released a months-long evaluation of Lucky Minerals’ exploration proposal. State officials said the company had agreed to extensive water quality and wildlife monitoring plans.
Local residents are concerned that mining could harm the local tourism industry and pollute the nearby Yellowstone River.
Legislation proposed by Montana U.S. Sen. Jon Tester would bar future mining claims on 30,000 acres of public lands outside Yellowstone.
Lucky Minerals’ proposal is on private land, but officials say it might not be economically viable without mining on adjacent public lands.
Republican Sen. Steve Daines says he opposes mining in some areas outside Yellowstone National Park but stopped short of endorsing proposed legislation on the matter from a fellow Montana lawmaker.
Daines appeared to speak favorably of Democrat Sen. Jon Tester’s bill to block Yellowstone-area mining during a Wednesday hearing before a senate committee.
But a spokeswoman said afterward the Republican still is weighing the best way to achieve the withdrawal of lands outside the park from future mining.
Daines has said previously that property rights also must be respected.
Federal officials last year placed a two-year halt on new mining claims on 30,000 acres of federal land outside Yellowstone at the urging of Tester and local officials.
Two gold exploration projects are proposed on private land in the same area.