May 31, 2018 Voices Of Montana, _Featured 2 comments

Hecla Mining CEO Officially Refutes “Bad Actor” Accusation

Lincoln and Sanders County Commissioners along with most of their residents say that Hecla Mining Company’s purchase of the Troy, Rock Creek and Montanore Mines is the single most positive event in Lincoln County since Neils family established J. Neils Lumber Company in the early 1900’s.

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Phil Baker-Courtesy of Hecla Mining

A coalition of conservation groups wholeheartedly disagree and have petitioned the Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to enforce Montana’s “bad actor” mining laws against Hecla Mining and its Chief Executive Officer, Phil Baker.  Those groups say that Hecla should not be allowed to pursue their planned Rock Creek and Montanore mine projects in Northwestern Montana unless they repay the state for the clean-up of mines abandoned by Baker’s former employer, Pegasus Gold.

Baker worked for Pegasus Mining as Chief Financial Officer, but was neither a principle or controlling member of Pegasus. In fact, Baker told our audience that he was an employee with no direct decision or authority over Pegasus mining operations. Furthermore, Baker left Pegasus Mining in early 1998, well before the state “received proceeds from a surety to perform reclamation” when the Pegasus bankruptcy was finalized in early 1999.

At a meeting of the Montana Legislature’s Environmental Quality Council on Wednesday, May 30th in Helena, Baker effectively made his points to state legislators and the DEQ. At Wednesday’s meeting, no decisions were made, but it is safe to say that the DEQ now officially has all of the facts in regards to Baker’s role and his timeline at Pegasus.

Voices of Montana talked with Phil Baker and Lincoln County commissioner, Mark Peck, on Wednesday, May 30, 2018 about the “bad actor” mining laws and the decision by the DEQ and the Governor’s Office to file a violation against Hecla Mining.  Calls and text messages poured in from Lincoln County and other Montana mining towns about what this could mean in the future for Western Montana.

Click here for the recording of Wednesday’s program featuring Phil Baker and Mark Peck.

by Jon Arneson