Hecla Mining Co. announced that it plans acquire Revett Mining Co. in a $20 million stock deal.
If the deal goes through, shareholders of Revett must still approve it, the permitting process for Revett’s Rock Creek Mine under the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness near Noxon, MT will proceed while the Troy Mine southwest of Libby, will be closed and reclaimed. Revett put on care and maintenance in January, the Associated Press reported.
Revett President and CEO John Shanahan said the company was unable to maintain the Troy Mine while pursuing development of Rock Creek.
The deal is expected to close late in the second quarter of 2015.
Rock Creek holds an estimated 229 million oz of silver and 2 billion pounds of copper, according to Revett.
As global commodities prices have fallen in recent months, silver prices declined from a high of $21.45 per ounce to just over $17 per ounce. Copper prices also fell sharply in recent months.
Companies have nevertheless continued to pursue new projects with an eye on the long term. Rock Creek has enough ore to maintain production for more than three decades or more, according to documents submitted to regulators.
Another silver and copper mine, Montanore, is proposed immediately north of Rock Creek by Mines Management Inc. of Spokane. Montanore cleared a significant hurdle this week when the Kootenai National Forest issued a long-awaited environmental study that will allow the project to proceed pending final approval.
Both Rock Creek and Montanore would go beneath the Cabinet Mountain Wilderness.
Both projects have been pending for years. The Rock Creek mine was first proposed in the late 1980s.
“We’re on our fourth company — Asarco, Sterling Mining, then Revett and now Hecla,” Costello said. “But the environmental impacts have not changed, and the problems have not gone away.”
The Rock Creek mine would produce 10,000 tons of ore a day at its peak and disturb almost 500 acres of surface, including 140 acres of National Forest lands, according to the Forest Service and Hecla vice president Luke Russell.