Company in legal fight with Montana halts mine cleanup work

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BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — An Idaho mining company is halting reclamation work at a closed silver and copper mine in northwest Montana amid a legal fight with state regulators over cleanup expenses at other sites.

Hecla Mining Co. manager Doug Stiles said Tuesday the cleanup of the Troy Mine west of Libby has been suspended indefinitely.

Stiles says the company is evaluating potential legal risks of continuing work at the site after the Montana Department of Environmental Quality sued Hecla CEO Phillips S. Baker Jr. last month.

The agency alleges Baker bears responsibility under Montana's "bad actor law" for ongoing pollution at several sites owned by his former employer, Pegasus Mining, which went bankrupt.

DEQ director Tom Livers says the lawsuit has no impact on reclamation work at Troy.

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