Final Approval to Reopen Troy Mine Slower Than Expected

By Beacon Staff

The reopening of Lincoln County’s Troy Mine is taking longer than expected, according to Revett Minerals Inc. CEO John Shanahan. The copper and silver mine near Troy has been shut down since December because of a series of rock falls and cave-ins.

In March, Shanahan said the Troy Mine could reopen as early as this month. Now he is saying it will likely start producing ore sometime in the second quarter of this year.

“Progress is being made,” Shanahan said. “We’re getting towards the end of this, but we’re gun shy about putting dates out there.”

The Troy Mine employs more than 200 people and is one of the largest companies in Lincoln County. It first opened in 1981 and operated until 1993, when it was closed. Revett reopened the mine in 2003 and has stated it has at least eight years of viable mining left, with the potential for even more. Revett is also actively trying to develop the nearby Rock Creek Mine.

In November, production underground slowed because rain and freezing temperatures caused unstable ground conditions. All mining ceased on Dec. 1 after a series of underground rock falls.

Since then, Revett has worked with the Mine Safety and Health Administration on reopening the mine. Earlier this year, miners have returned underground and began stabilizing sections of the mine and building new access tunnels to bypass cave-ins. Shanahan says there have been hundreds of feet of new development drafts constructed in recent weeks. Shanahan said there are some areas of the mine that workers will not return to for safety reasons.

Although there were concerns of layoffs earlier this year, Shanahan said the company avoided pink slips and kept people busy with maintenance and cleaning projects on the surface.

“Come on up and take photos because this is the cleanest mine site you’ll ever see,” Shanahan said, laughing.

Before the mine can reopen, MSHA must approve an operations plan. Shanahan said the approval process has taken longer than anticipated but added the company is ready to reopen. He said the mine should begin producing ore in late spring or early summer and it will take four to six weeks to ramp up to full production.

Although Shanahan said the shutdown has been hard for his company, especially its stock value, the CEO expressed confidence that the company was not leaving Lincoln County anytime soon.

“It’s been difficult, but it’s not the end of the world,” he said. “We’re here for a very long time. When we look back at this it will be seen as a difficult time, but if having to close for four or five months is what we needed to do to make sure we’re the safest operation we can be, than so be it.”

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