The Latest: Mining company to fight "bad actor" allegation

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — The Latest on a mining company accused of violating Montana’s “bad actor” law, which blocks individuals and companies that don’t clean up old mines from starting new ones. (all times local):

1 p.m.

An Idaho company seeking to develop two mines in northwest Montana will fight accusations that it’s responsible for more than $30 million in cleanup costs at several shuttered mine sites.

Hecla Mining Co. Vice President Luke Russell said Tuesday that the company had no relation to Pegasus Gold Corp., which left government agencies with a massive cleanup bill when it went bankrupt in 1998.

Hecla’s president and CEO, Phillips Baker, Jr. was an executive at Pegasus.

State officials say that puts him and the company in violation of the state’s “bad actor” law.

The law blocks companies and individuals who don’t clean up old mines from starting new ones.

Russell says the state is misinterpreting the law and will take the matter to court if needed.

11:45 a.m.

Montana regulators say an Idaho mining company and its president are violating the state’s “bad actor” law because they are pursuing two new mines without paying for the cleanup of past projects.

Department of Environmental Quality Director Tom Livers told The Associated Press Tuesday that Hecla Mining Inc. can resolve the violation by paying back the state more than $30 million.

Alternatively, the company would have to prove Hecla President Phillips Baker is not involved in mining in the state.

Montana law blocks individuals who don’t clean or pay for the cleanup of old mines from starting new ones.

Baker was an executive with Pegasus Gold Corp. which went bankrupt after operating three mines that polluted waterways.

Hecla spokesman Luke Russell did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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