International Silver eyes project in Montana
International Silver Inc., an Arizona-based mining company, is proposing underground mining for silver and zinc in Butte, MT.
Roy Shipes, president of International Silver told Butte-Silver Bow commissioners that if the plans are approved, the company could mine 2.7 kt/d (3,000 stpd) while creating 200 jobs and generating $100 million in annual revenue.
Shipes is asking the county to consider leasing both the surface and mineral rights on hundreds of acres of land to bolster the operation. He told commissioners the company has enough land and mineral rights to mine up to 907 t/d (1,000 stpd) of ore. The county leases would allow the company to get to 2.7 kt/d (3,000 stpd), the Billings Gazette reported.
Under the proposed plan, the company would use the Kelley mine yard as its main industrial site where the trucks and large equipment would be based, said Harrison Matson, chief geologist. A processing plant would be built on land the company owns west of Big Butte.
The project could provide as many as 350 jobs during the construction phase and 200 jobs throughout mining. That could last up to 20 years or longer.
“We could make this a long-term mining project that would put Butte back into business in the underground mining business,” Matson said.
Matson also added the mine would have minimal impacts in town because it will be entirely done underground. The company will stay above the water level and use water from the mine shafts for its operations.
Commissioners voted 10-0 to prepare a developer’s packet for the county properties in question. Several said they are fully supportive of the potential project and the jobs and tax revenue it could bring to Butte.
Shipes said with careful engineering the mine can be crafted to have minimal impacts on neighborhoods and the environment. He said they will use water from underground for the processing and when that’s done it must be heavily treated to clean it up.
Shipes said they plan to hire eight to 10 engineers immediately to begin mapping underground in Butte, and establish an office in Butte. If everything moves forward construction of the processing plant could begin next year and mining could commence in about two and a half years.
Some key staff members will be brought to the job, but the company plans to mostly hire both engineers and other workers from Butte.