Hecla Mining Company is made up of a caring group of individuals striving for excellence in all that they do.
Soon after Hecla began preliminary work in Montana, environmental groups petitioned Governor Bullock and the Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to deem Hecla a “bad actor” under the Metal Mine Reclamation Act.
The law prevents companies who don’t clean – or pay for the cleanup of – old mines from starting new ones.
In March of 2018, the DEQ sided with anti-mining groups and notified Hecla, despite acknowledging “the high reputation Hecla has earned for safety and its commitment to minimize the environmental impact of its proposed projects,” that the agency seeks to hold Hecla accountable for the actions of an unrelated mining company from 20 years ago – Pegasus Gold.
We agree with the intent of the law to prevent irresponsible and negligent companies from operating in Montana. But Hecla is a well-respected, domestic company with more than 128 years of mining experience and is one of the ‘best actors’ in the industry.
Hecla has never been associated with Pegasus and does not condone anything less than the highest standard of operations from cradle to grave.
Pegasus Gold was the parent company of Zortman Mine. The Zortman Mine started operations in 1979 before modern mine reclamation standards were in place. In the late 1990s, the mine went bankrupt. The reclamation bond secured by the company prior to the bankruptcy was later found to be inadequate.
Phillips S. Baker, Jr., currently president and CEO of Hecla Mining Company, was employed as chief financial officer of Pegasus. He was not with Pegasus when reclamation funds were returned to the State from the bankruptcy in late 1998.
If this “bad actor” law were applied equally to all ex-employees from all companies, it’s no stretch to say that most of the State’s mines would be ineligible for permitting.
estimated mine workers in the Inland Northwest
the likelihood that a mining employee has worked at another company
estimated mining companies operating in Montana
times Hecla has failed to meet reclamation obligations