Rock Creek Mine Project

Project Status

June 21, 2017 - The Kootenai National Forest (KNF) has issued its Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (Final SEIS) and Draft Record of Decision (ROD) for the Rock Creek Project.  The Rock Creek Project is a proposed underground copper and silver mine located in northwestern Montana near Noxon in Sanders County. RC Resources (RCR) (a subsidiary of Hecla Mining Company) proposes to construct, operate, and reclaim the proposed Rock Creek Mine which has a mine life of 33 to 38 years. RCR currently holds mineral rights for the Rock Creek ore deposit beneath and adjacent to the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness (CMW) on the Cabinet Ranger District of the Kaniksu National Forest, which is administered by the KNF.

Objection Process

The objection process will run from July 4 through August 17.  See the cover letter below for a description of the objection process.

Legal Ad

Legal Ad from the Missoulian - July 3, 2017 - pdf

Final SEIS

February 19, 2016 - The Kootenai National Forest (KNF) has issued its Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (Draft SEIS) for the Rock Creek Project. This Draft SEIS responds to the US District Court Decision in Rock Creek Alliance et al. v. USFS, Revett Silver Company, and USFWS,  (CV 05-107-M-DWM and CV 08-028-M-DWM consolidated) May 4, 2010 opinion.  In that opinion the Court found deficiencies in the 2001 Rock Creek Project Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS). The court remanded the FEIS back to the Forest Service for further action and vacated the 2003 Record of Decision. The SEIS addresses the deficiencies found by the court and updates other resource analyses where the Forest Service identified significant new circumstances or information relevant to environmental concerns and bearing on the proposed action or its impacts.

Draft SEIS

Project Overview

Background and History

  • The mine has a long permitting history dating back to an application for a mining permit in 1987.
  • In 1999, Sterling Mining Company (Sterling) purchased the mine property and mining claims from ASARCO. The property was ultimately conveyed to RCR, a subsidiary of Revett Silver Company (Revett). In June, 2015, Hecla Mining Company and Revett merged, and Hecla acquired Revett’s assets, which include the Rock Creek Project. Upon completion of the merger, Revett became a wholly owned subsidiary of Hecla.
  • The Forest Service and Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) jointly completed a FEIS and Record of Decision (ROD) in 2001.
  • The Fish and Wildlife Service withdrew its Biological Opinion (BO) in 2002 to settle a lawsuit.  Without a valid BO the Forest Service withdrew its part of the 2001 ROD.
  • The Fish and Wildlife Service issued a new BO in 2003.  The Forest Service issued a new ROD in 2003.
  • Numerous appeals were filed on the 2003 ROD.   The Regional Forester upheld the decision.
  • The US Fish and Wildlife Service’s 2003 BO was litigated in 2005 and was set aside by US District Court.  
  • The Fish and Wildlife Service issued a new BO in 2006.
  • In 2007 the US Fish and Wildlife Service issued a supplement to the 2006 BO.
  • In 2010 US District Court remanded the 2003 FEIS back to the Forest Service for further action and vacated the 2003 ROD
  • The US Fish and Wildlife Service’s 2006 BO and the 2007 Supplement was litigated and upheld in US District Court.
  • The plaintiffs appealed the issues regarding Fish and Wildlife Service’s 2006 BO and the 2007 Supplement to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
  • In June 2011 the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the Fish and Wildlife Service on all issues raised by the plaintiffs.

Lead and Cooperating Agencies

The USDA Forest Service is the Lead Agency for this project.  The US Environmental Protection Agency and the US Army Corps of Engineers participate in the project as a Cooperating Agency.

Legal Description

All or portions of the following sections are within the Montana Department of Environmental Quality’s permitted Alternative V designated permit boundary or involves the patent mineral estate for Revett Minerals Incorporated located in and outside the Cabinet Mountain Wilderness:

Principal Meridian Montana,

T. 26 N., R. 32 W., Section: 3, 10, 15, 21, 22, 27, 28, 29, 32, and 33.

T. 27 N., R. 32 /W., Sections: 13, 14, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 34, and 35

Project Location Map

Project Location Map - pdf

Supporting Documents

Request More Information

For information on the project, contact:

Lynn Hagarty, Project Coordinator, Supervisor’s Office, 31374 US Highway 2, Libby, Montana, 59923, (406) 293-6211, or e-mail at rockcreekmine@fs.fed.us.