BUTTE — A company believes it may be the right time to consider underground mining again in Butte for silver, gold and zinc.
“Right now the prices are strong and the prospect for the prices remain strong is pretty sound at this point, so it’s a real encouragement for us to come in, especially with the amount of information available to us,” said Chief Operations Officer for Butte Blackjack Operating Mark Hartmann.
The information will come from core samples and records stored in the old Badger Mine warehouse in the area BlackJack Silver Corp. hopes to mine.
“A lot of them were mined back in the 1800s and when Anaconda and Butte Mining came in they typically mined at deeper levels and so there are a number of narrow veins that go from the surface all the way down,” said Hartmann.
The company first wants to make sure the ore is there.
“There’s a lot to do between now and an actually mining operation and fortunately we have the skilled people here who know how to do that,” he said.
The company is taking a three-pronged approach in exploring for ore: First, they’ll drill from the surface to fine ore veins, then go underground to examine the quality of the ore, with that information, they’ll develop a 3-D model of the ore veins. This will help them determine if it’s worth mining for the ore.
“First thing we need to do is determine what the resource is both from a quality and quantity standpoint. Until will do that, there’s really no plans we can make until we know what the resource looks like,” said Hartmann.
Some believe it’s a good thing for Butte.
“I think it’s great, we’re on the Richest Hill on Earth, we’re still mining here so why not get some other metal, silver, lead, zinc. Silver is key to solar panels so if we want to go green we need more silver,” said Scott Rosenthal, head of Montana Tech’s Mining Engineering department.
At the entrance way of the Chief Joseph mine, where they would do the mining. There’s a bit of a cave-in here, there are some cave-ins in the mine, but the company assures when they start operation this will be safe.
“Our intention is to hire as much locally as we can, train the skills that we need to train, because it’s going to be a skill requirement to work underground,” said Hartmann.