The Montana Department of Environmental Quality (MT DEQ) has released the draft environmental impact statement (EIS) outlining the final permitting steps for the underground Black Butte copper project that TSX-V-listed Sandfire Resources America is developing.
The draft EIS will be open for public comment for a 60-day period until May 10, and Sandfire said on Tuesday that it could have a record of decision (ROD) and mine operating permit for Black Butte as early as the third quarter of this year.
The issuing of the draft EIS is the result of three years and four months of effort by the company, its consulting technical experts and the MT DEQ to prepare a design and permit to deliver an environmentally responsible mine development project.
The company initially anticipated a draft EIS from MT DEQ in mid-2018 and an RoD before the end of that year.
The Black Butte project has all other Montana permits in hand and has been issued a federal Section 404 permit.
Sandfire is planning an underground mining operation that will produce 30 000 t/y of copper in concentrate for 11 years based on a total mill throughput of 11.8-million tonnes at an average head grade of 3.1% copper.
Sandfire Resources America is majority owned by Australian copper miner Sandfire Resources, which trades on the ASX.