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MDEQ Publishes Final Environmental Impact Statement for Butte Highlands Gold Mine Project

Timberline Resources Corporation announced today that the Montana Department of Environmental Quality has published the Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Butte Highlands Joint Venture's proposed underground gold mine in the Highland Mountains south of Butte, Montana.

The completion of the FEIS is a critical milestone in the process to obtain the Final Hard Rock Operating Permit (HROP) at Butte Highlands. The FEIS completes the environmental analyses on the project through incorporation of public comments provided on the Draft EIS which was issued in October, 2013. The FEIS incorporates mitigation responses, developed with Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (MFWP) and in consideration of Butte-Silver Bow County, to potential impacts to surface and groundwater in the adjacent Basin Creek and Fish Creek drainages resulting from dewatering of the proposed mine and from termination of flow to Basin Creek resulting from closure of the historic mine portal. The complete text of the FEIS may be viewed at http://deq.mt.gov/eis.mcpx.

The DEQ anticipates issuing a Record of Decision (ROD) "in the early part of 2015 documenting its decision on the proposed mine." The DEQ must issue the ROD prior to the final Hard Rock Operating Permit authorizing construction and operation of the mine.

No further public comments are being accepted by the DEQ on the FEIS.

Concurrent with publishing the FEIS, the MDEQ released a proposed Non-significance Determination on Basin Creek stream flow alteration related to proposed plans to hydraulically plug the historic Highland Mine adit. The release notes "DEQ is proposing to determine that the change in flow in Basin Creek as a result of BHJV's plugging of the historic Highland Mine adit is nonsignificant …." The hydraulic plug is expected to promote environmental restoration of groundwater levels in the mine area to approximate pre-historic mining conditions and to support increased base flow in the adjacent Fish Creek to the benefit of critical fish habitat.

The MDEQ will accept public comments on this proposed Non-significance Determination for 30 days, but is not required to respond to such. The public comment period must be completed prior to issuance of the ROD for the proposed project.

Timberline President and CEO Paul Dircksen commented, "Completion of the FEIS is the most significant milestone to-date in permitting of the Butte Highlands Mine. We are very pleased that the MDEQ has presented reasonable mitigations to environmental issues identified in the public comment process on the Draft EIS. With publishing of the FEIS the Final HROP is on the horizon."

Timberline owns a 50-percent carried-to-production interest in BHJV, which owns the Butte Highlands Gold Project where mining is expected to commence following the issuance of the final hard rock operating permit and the U.S. Forest Service approval of a road-use plan of operations for material haulage. Timberline's joint venture partner is funding all mine development costs through to commercial production with Timberline's share of those costs to be repaid from proceeds of future mine production.

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