Butte Mining Company Celebrates as USFS Approves New Hauling Routes

In Dust Control, Mine & Quarry, Surface Management by Jim Silva

The U.S. Forest Service determined that the haulage routes for a new underground gold mine near Butte, Montana, would have a negligible environmental impact, and approved their construction. Haulage roads are critical to mining operations, and require careful treatment and maintenance.

Two haulage routes represent an essential component of a proposed underground gold mine operation in the Highland Mountains, just south of Butte. Funded by the Butte Highlands Joint Venture (BHJV) mining company, the mine and its roads have local citizens hopeful that the new project will bring an influx of new employment opportunities.

In March, the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), granted the BHJV official approval to use the route, giving the whole town reason to celebrate.

Environmental Impact

The proposed route consists of two gravel roads — Highland Road and Roosevelt Drive — that will allow for easier and quicker transportation and a more efficient operation.

According to a press release from Timberland Resources, a 50% shareholder in the BHJV, District Ranger David Sabo announced a “finding of ‘No Significant Impacts’ for either [proposed] route,” adding that haulage on the routes “would not have significant effects on the quality of the human environment, considering the context and intensity of impacts.”

Sabo’s proclamation renders an Environmental Impact Statement from the USFS unnecessary, yet the Forestry Service can’t formally make these roads available until the mandatory 45-day objection period expires, which gives residents the opportunity to voice their concerns and complaints.

The objection period’s expiration date was April 30, but if there are any objections that merit further consideration during that time, the decision could still be delayed until this month.

In the event that the routes are officially approved, only Highland Road will be used for ore haulage, as the town’s residents strongly oppose the use of Roosevelt Drive due to concerns over the noise and detritus generated by a steady stream of haul trucks.

Highland Road will therefore bear the full brunt of the haulage traffic, meaning it will require serious improvements in order to safely accommodate so many heavily-loaded vehicles.

Road Stability and Dust Prevention Solutions

Given the high volume of haul trucks prepared to traffic this single route, as well as the road’s close proximity to game ranches and wildlife, the BHJV should consider a number of precautionary measures in advance of the road’s opening for business.

Dust is generated from both the traction of a vehicle’s tires on the road and by the wind picking up detritus from its cargo. It’s important to address both aspects sufficiently — while any means of dust prevention is necessary, it’s even more important that fugitive dust particles be contained with the right products and methods.

You can bet that if a product isn’t friendly to the environment, it isn’t friendly to people either— after all, we’re still very much involved in and affected by our natural surroundings. So why use harsh compounds on road surfaces when they could lead to runoff water contamination and ecological destruction?

Midwest Industrial Supply, Inc. provides an entire spectrum of environmentally-friendly dust suppression and soil stabilization services for the mining industry. No matter how tricky, delicate, or heavily regulated your dust problem is, Midwest’s Managed Services will deliver the best possible outcome for your business.

Haulage Road Treatments

For a surface stronger than asphalt, Midwest’s Haul Road Dust Control programs are the only guaranteed way to achieve soil stability while also suppressing dust and slashing costs.

Our dust control and stabilization services will prevent dangerous PM10 and PM2.5 particles from harming workers and the environment, all while saving tons of water that would otherwise be used on dust suppression.

What’s more, surface management from Midwest will actually improve the strength of your roads as usage increases. Our solutions are non-toxic, letting you rely on the transportation pathways you need without harming the environment — all at half the cost of your current solution.

(Image credit: Rex Brown/flickr)

Jim is Midwest’s Business Unit Manager for Global Mining. He is experienced in operations management, asset management, and business improvement.