Lucky Minerals: Project will continue, despite withdrawal

Johnathan Hettinger,
Monday, October 8, 2018

Enterprise photo by Nate Howard

Lucky Minerals CEO John Mears visits with media near the entrance to Sage Lodge, where Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke announced a withdrawal of mining claims on 30,000 acres of the Custer-Gallatin National Forest, Monday.


Not invited to Monday’s event announcing an administrative withdrawal of mining claims at Sage Lodge: Lucky Minerals.

Nonetheless, the Canadian company plans to move forward with its proposed gold mine at Emigrant Gulch, CEO John Mears said Monday.

Mears, installed as CEO in August, stood down the road from Sage Lodge with a sign asking Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke to meet with him.

Mears said he has not heard back from Zinke, Sen. Steve Daines, Sen. Jon Tester, or Rep. Greg Gianforte in the past two weeks when contacting them about the project. Mears said that it is not normal for the person doing a project to not hear back from politicians.

“Except for when you have a different agenda,” Mears said. “This is not about protecting land. It’s about preserving it for a few individuals.”

Lucky Minerals, which is the subject of an ongoing lawsuit filed by the Park County Environmental Council and the Greater Yellowstone Coalition, has 220 acres of mining claims on private land surrounded by the Custer-Gallatin National Forest, where the withdrawal was announced, and more than 2,000 acres of existing claims in the forest, Mears said. 

The lawsuit is currently held up on a constitutional question, and the Montana Department of Justice is anticipated to file a brief on that question next week. A hearing is scheduled for December on that question.

Trevor Dusza, a geologist from Lucky, said he has been up in the gulch doing work for the past month. The work includes mapping and surveying and other “non-equipment-based” activities, largely focused on the St. Julian claims.

 Zinke said he is willing to meet with Mears, but he thinks the administrative withdrawal will stop the project.

“I don’t see a way forward,” Zinke said.

Mears said Zinke doesn’t know what he’s talking about; the company can — and will — move forward.

“I disagree with that,” Mears said.

Mears said it does affect the company, but a mine would still be feasible, both on its existing claims and potentially even on its private claims if its a high-grade underground mine.

He said the company could bring many high-paying mining jobs to Paradise Valley.

“The valley was done a great disservice by the withdrawal,” Mears said.