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AP - Oregon-Northwest

Montana court removes potential wilderness mine obstacle

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A recent Montana Supreme Court decision has removed one obstacle for a mining company seeking to explore a silver and copper deposit in northwestern Montana potentially worth billions of dollars.

Exploration in the Cabinet Mountains has been delayed in part by a dispute over whether Mines Management Inc. can access the deposit by tunneling under a man’s nearby unpatented mining claims.

In a 5-0 decision Tuesday, Supreme Court justices ruled that the late Arnold Bakie’s claims were invalid because they didn’t contain any valuable minerals.

The justices overturned a previous jury verdict that Mines Management owed Bakie and investors, including former Gov. Brian Schweitzer, $3.3 million.

Luke Russell, a spokesman for Mines Management owner Hecla Mining Co., says the company is working with U.S. Forest Service officials on an environmental analysis of the mining project.

The Associated Press

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