MALTA, Mont.) – The Bureau of Land Management issued a Public Land Order today to protect more than 2,600 acres at the Zortman-Landusky Mine reclamation area from future mining activities. The BLM administers the site, located in Phillips County, Montana.
The 20-year mineral withdrawal of this reclamation area prevents new mining activities and disturbance of the public lands, and provides time to assess and monitor the effectiveness of on-going reclamation activities – https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2022/09/09/2022-19503/public-land-order-no-7913-withdrawal-of-public-land-for-the-zortman-landusky-mine-reclamation-site. A withdrawal of this area was first approved in October 2000 and expired on October 4, 2020. The BLM is also considering an additional 900 acres for withdrawal and is analyzing public comments.
Approximately $83.7 million in reclamation bonds and State of Montana and BLM funding have been spent since 1999 to fund site reclamation and water treatment plant operations after the mine operator declared bankruptcy and abandoned the mines in 1998. It is anticipated that water treatment will continue indefinitely, with continued funding needed for ongoing operation and monitoring activities. The BLM estimates that approximately $2.2 million per year will be needed for water treatment into the foreseeable future.
For more information about the Zortman-Landusky Mine reclamation area, please see the environmental review documents associated with this withdrawal on BLM’s ePlanning website – https://eplanning.blm.gov. Search using the National Environmental Policy Act number: DOI-BLM-MT-L010-2021-0003-EA.