Western Australian-based Sandfire Resources has secured a key permitting milestone for its 78 per cent owned Black Butte copper project in Montana USA, bringing the operation closer to construction.
The project is held through Sandfire’s 78 per cent owned subsidiary Tintina Resources and is part of the company’s long term strategic growth plan.
The Montana department of environmental quality (MT DEQ) deemed the project’s mine operating permit (MOP) ‘complete and compliant’ in accordance with all of the state’s rules and regulations. The MOP, which was developed over two and a half years, includes the underground mine design, operations and environmental management.
A draft MOP is expected from the MT DEQ within the next month.
Receiving the ‘Complete and Compliant’ status paves the way for the next key permitting stage – the environmental impact study (EIS).
Tintina Resources is also required to obtain the other state operating permits, including a Montana pollutant discharge elimination system (MPDES) permit, an air quality permit and a public water supply permit. The company will also complete a hard rock mining impact plan.
Once completed, the EIS will result in a final record of decision, which allows bonding requirements to be set and construction of the underground mine to commence.
Sandfire’s managing director Karl Simich said receiving the ‘complete and compliant’
status marked the culmination of many months of detailed technical work to refine the development and operating plan for Black Butte.
“I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the patience, hard work and efforts of John Shanahan and his team at Tintina in advancing the Mine Operating Permit application to this important juncture,” he said.
“We are very much looking forward to the next and final stage of the approval process, the 12-month EIS process which is expected to kick off next month. Following that we will move as quickly as possible into construction and development to unlock the significant economic value of the high-grade copper resources.”
On the back of Sandfire’s success with the DeGrussa copper gold project in WA – which installed an innovative solar facility last year – and the potential with the Black Butte project, Simich told Australian Mining that the company has “never been in a stronger position”.
“The world really is our oyster at the minute in terms of going forward from here,” he said.
“The prognosis for the commodity sector for our industry is looking very bright and we look forward to being a part of it.”