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By Darrell Ehrlick, Daily Montanan

A district court judge has halted a proposed mine near the headwaters of the iconic Smith River after saying the Montana Department of Environmental Quality’s actions were “arbitrary, capricious and unlawful.”

The future of the Black Butte Copper Mine, owned by Tintina Resources, will be halted until satisfactory plans are presented, or until a higher court hears the case.

In a statement, the Montana DEQ said that it planned on appealing the decision of Judge Katherine M. Bidegaray of Sidney.

“We care about protecting water quality, the iconic Smith River and upholding the laws of Montana—that’s why our team of experts thoroughly analyzed the permit application and required stringent measures to protect Montana. Before, and after, becoming director I have been involved in this mine permitting process and know it is one of the most protective permits DEQ has ever issued. DEQ plans to appeal Judge Bidegaray’s decision on this sound and defensible permit,” said DEQ Director Chris Dorrington.

Montana Trout Unlimited, Montana Environmental Information Center, Trout Unlimited, Earthworks and American Rivers were all plaintiffs in the case that took on the Montana DEQ, Tintina Montana and Meagher and Broadwater counties.

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