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Revett CEO: It Could Be Months Before Troy Mine Reopens
Company to make decision about layoffs at Lincoln County mine soon
The Revett Minerals Mine located near Troy Montana. - Courtesy photo
Revett Minerals, Inc. CEO John Shanahan says it could be months before the Troy Mine reopens for production and the company may lay off workers in the coming days.

The Lincoln County copper and silver mine ceased all underground operations Dec. 1 after a series of rockslides inside abandoned parts of the mine. At first Shanahan was optimistic that the shutdown would be temporary, but last week his hopes were dimming.

“The big question is whether we’re weeks away or months away from resuming operations,” Shanahan said. “I believe we will get back to doing what we do, but it’s difficult to get a firm date on that.”

The Troy Mine first opened in 1981 and operated until 1993. Revett reopened the mine in 2005. In 2012, the mine produced approximately 1.1 million ounces of silver and 7.5 million pounds of copper, far below what the company had projected for the year.

Shanahan said rain throughout November and freezing temperatures in December led to the unstable ground conditions late last year. Because of that, rock inside the mine began to fracture and crack. A series of small earthquakes also occurred in Northwest Montana in December, which may have led to more rockfalls.

Access to the mine has been restricted since mid-December as Revett works with the Mine Safety and Health Administration on determining when the Troy Mine may reopen. Shanahan has insisted since the beginning that safety is the company’s primary concern.

“The decisions that we made in December were the correct ones and I’m proud of our leadership and those choices,” he said.

Because of the seismic activity during December, Shanahan said the company decided to install geophone monitors underground. The machines can gather data about ground movement and can recognize anything from a truck driving by to an earthquake.

Since the shutdown began, Revett has kept all 205 employees at the mine working on maintenance and cleaning projects. As the shutdown continues into the new year, Shanahan said layoffs are now possible. He said a decision on that would be made in the coming days.

The possibility of miners not collecting a paycheck is a big concern for County Commissioner Tony Berget.

“Lincoln County is always dealing with the highest unemployment in the state and so every job here is important to us,” Berget said. “We’re scared and worried about (layoffs).”

The mine shutdown has also hurt the company’s stock, which has dropped significantly in the last two months. On Nov. 13, when production began to slow down because of rock falls, Revett stock was worth $3.47 a share. More than two months later it falls to $2.50 a share, its lowest since 2010.

Revett is currently working with MSHA on drafting a plan to return to regular operations and Shanahan said inspectors and company officials have been able to return to some parts of the mine. He said it is difficult to get a complete picture until the entire mine is inspected, but said for the most part the ground has stabilized. Even if there are questions as to when the mine might reopen, Shanahan was confident the company and the mine would survive.

“We’ll weather the storm,” he said. “We’ve been through the economic downturn and I know we can weather this as well."
On 01-20-13, hotfishmt commented....
With Lincoln county needed every job….surely, some expert in “coal” country back East in Kentucky or West Virginia that deals with under ground mining problems all the time could offer some advice on how to correct the situation????
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