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Developments in Montana's mining industry.

The Bureau of Mines and Geology at the Montana College of Mineral Science and Technology in Butte recently surveyed firms in Montana's mining industry. The survey was intended to gather information about the industry's effect on Montana's economy. Results of the survey will be released in a 1991 publication.

A number of proejcts were undertaken in 1990 which will lead to new mines and to production improvements at existing facilities.

Butte

Pegasus Gold discovered additional reserves which will extend the life of its Beal Mountain mine. In 1990, the operation employed 120 people with a payroll of $3.5 million.

Columbus/Nye

Still water Mining built a 30-ton per day smelter and created twenty-five new jobs in 1990. The company proposed doubling production for its mine and constructing a similar mine south of Big Timber. Payroll reached $13 million in 1990, and the mine operations employed 450-480 people.

Dillon

Pfizer invested $8 million in a new beneficiation plant. The company also modified its mine plan, anticipating increased talc production and the addition of twenty new jobs.

Ennis

Montana Talc enlarged reserves and changed its mine plan, personnel, and equipment, thereby increasing profitability. Reserves are sufficient for a minimum of twenty-five years.

Helena

Asarco completed a $15.5 million ore handling facility at its smelter which will eliminate blowing dust from ore concentrates.

Pegasus continued production and investment in the Helena region with projects on its Basin Creek and Montana Tunnels mines. At Basin Creek the company completed an 11 million-ton heap leach pad at a cost of $10.5 million. The mine will employ up to 100 workers with an annual payroll of $2.7 million. At Montana Tunnels, the company will change its mine plan to reduce operating cost by 40 percent while increasing the mine life.

Lewistown

Canyon Resources built a new pad at its C. R. Kendall mine, and doubled the processing capacity of its new plant.

Blue Ridge added a cyanide circuit to its mill at Health, and prepared to bring portions of the Giltedge district into production.

Libby

Noranda Minerals continued work on its 18,000 foot adit south of Libby. The company has completed more than 5,200 feet of the adit and hopes to bring the mine into production in 1995, eventually employing 450 with a payroll of $12 million.

Malta

Pegasus Gold built a new 50 million-ton pad at its Landusky operation. The 1990 payroll for the mine was $7 million with 240 workers.

Noxon

Asarco continued work on its Rock Creek project, which is projected to employe 355 with an annual payroll of $12.5 million when it comes into production during the latter half of the 1990s.

Townsend

Continental Lime broke ground for an enlargement project which will double its production.

Whitehall

Placer Dome initiated development at its Golden Sunlight mine to extend mine life to 2006. The operation employed 250 in 1990, with a payroll of $8 million.

The only real low point for the mining industry in 1990 came with the closure of W.R. Grace's vermiculite operation east of Libby. Lincoln County lost eighty jobs, $900,000 in taxes, and a $2.5 million payroll.

Robin McCullough is a staff field agent for the Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology at Montana Tech in Butte.
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Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:McCulloch, Robin
Publication:Montana Business Quarterly
Date:Mar 22, 1991
Words:548
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