Monday, November 23, 2009

Mining the Highlands

While Montana’s wide-open mountain vistas, relatively undisturbed wildlife habitat and peaceful, windy quietude have risen among the top of the state’s golden treasures, there is still plenty of interest in the kind of gold currently fetching over $1,000 per ounce on the worldwide metals market. Just 15 miles south of Butte in the heart of the Highlands Mountains, Timberline Resources is making way for a new, 750,000+ ounce underground gold mine. The Idaho-based newcomer to the mining industry began laying the groundwork in August for what the corporation hopes to be a 10-year project that could employ up to 100 workers. Timberline stock (TLR) began trading on the NYSE back in May and has sold just shy of 36 million shares of its 44.5 million cap, trading most recently at $1.24.

So how does a mine that could employ 100 people and that has sold over 35 million shares on Wall Street go relatively unheard of in a mining community of 30,000 people just miles away? Timberline began working in August and has been progressively forging ahead ever since under an amended exploration permit and a small mine exemption, both granted by the Montana Department of Environmental Quality’s Hard Rock Mining division. Neither of these processes require an official public comment period or a full-scale environmental impact study. Timberline presented the project to the Butte-Silver Bow Council of Commissioners in May and most recently in October at the National Summit of Mining Communities in Butte.

This project has a lot of costs and benefits for The Mining City and the surrounding areas that will need to be weighed by our citizens prior to the commencement of full-scale operation, as awakening community awareness has just recently begun to pique public interest. According to Timberline’s website ( the mine properties consist of approximately 1,100 privately-owned acres situated along the Continental Divide at the headwaters of Basin (Upper Clark Fork Watershed/Butte drinking water supply), Fish (Jefferson River Watershed) and Moose (Big Hole River Watershed) Creeks. Under the current exploration and small mine development permits, approximately 50 acres will be disturbed at the site, over one-mile of underground tunnel dug and a 10,000 ton “bulk sample” collected over the next year. The ore is approximately 0.27 ounces of gold per ton. For more information, visit the Timberline Resources website above, or contact Robert Crohnholm with the DEQ at (406) 444-4330.

-Matt Vincent

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