Steele Resources Corporation is a small California-based firm which has re-opened a defunct mine west of the town of Pony in western Montana. The Cameron Park based company has started removing piles of waste rock from the old Atlantic and Pacific mine.
The company spokesman Philip Easley-Bosley said that the waste rock removal was the first phase of beginning small scale underground mining operations by spring 2012. Close to 8 locals had been hired by the company for the work. He added that it was a rare opportunity to do good business and a good deed for the environment as well.
The waste rock will be crushed and sent to the Golden Sunlight Mine in Whitehall for processing. Easley-Bosley said that the waste rock removal would be finished in the next two months. The money made from processing the waste rock for gold was not expected to cover the company's long-term expenses and the company will have to raise outside money or delay some of its mining plans.
Pony and Madison County residents are viewing the company operations with concern. The jobs from the mine will help the local economy but historically mining has caused considerable damage to the local environment.
Lisa Peterson, DEQ spokeswoman said that Steele Resources was currently operating under two Small Miner Exclusion Statements given by the Montana Department of Environmental Quality, one for waste rock removal from the A&P site and one for the site where waste rock is crushed. It allows the company to forego obtaining a full-scale mining permit so long as the operation is less than five acres and meets several other DEQ standards.