LIBBY — RC Resources, a subsidiary of Hecla Mining Company, recently announced that the U.S. Forest Service has issued its notice of availability of the Phase I Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Rock Creek silver and copper project in Sanders County.
“This announcement could open the door for Phase I of the Rock Creek Project,” said Doug Stiles, general manager for RC Resources. “Clearly, the federal agencies see the value of the Rock Creek project and have done their part to try to bring 300 high-paying jobs to the residents of Northwest Montana while considering appropriate environmental issues and protections. At the same time, we are dismayed that the governor’s office, with its recent legal push against Hecla on the bad actor provision, is standing in the way of an opportunity to responsibly develop natural resources and provide jobs to an area with the highest unemployment rate in the state.”
Hecla was notified by the Forest Service they have cleared the Rock Creek Project’s Phase I Supplemental EIS. The action paves the way for the Record of Decision on Phase I to be signed by Chris Savage, supervisor of the Kootenai National Forest, after a 30-day review.
This milestone in permitting the Rock Creek Project comes after decades of environmental analysis, public comment and litigation. Last year, a delegation of Montana residents — including Libby Public Schools Supt. Craig Barringer, Lincoln County Commissioner Jerry Bennett, Sanders County Commissioner Carol Brooker, Kootenai River Development Council Executive Director Tina Oliplant, W.F. Morrison Elementary Principal Diane Rewerts and Environomics President Bruce Vincent — met with federal agencies and elected officials in Washington, D.C. The delegation encouraged the prioritization of the project and that proper staffing and resources be in place to ensure that the needed analysis for Phase I would be conducted in a timely manner, and that the project could move forward in months, not years.
“The residents of Lincoln and Sanders counties have been waiting decades for this project,” said Vincent. “We are pleased that the federal government is finally moving this project forward. We wish the governor’s office was not creating an unnecessary obstacle to hundreds of family-wage jobs.”