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Mining group suggests members punish outfitter

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HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The head of the Montana Mining Association called for a swift backlash to a magazine article outlining the potential environmental fallout from a planned copper mine, a project proposed by a company for which she lobbies.

MMA interim executive director Tammy Johnson wrote in the May 2 memo that a Field and Stream article makes "outlandish claims" about the proposed copper mine near White Sulphur Springs, the Independent Record reported (bit.ly/1lsMAa4) in a story published Tuesday.

A Tintina Resources subsidiary plans to apply for an operations permit for the mine has conducted surface exploration at the site since 2010 in the belief there is high-grade, mineable copper underground. In January, the DEQ approved the tunnel, which would produce a 10,000-ton bulk sample of rock for testing

The author of the Field and Stream article, Sarah Grigg, quoted Trout Unlimited's conservation director as saying the Tintina Resources project would be a big deal for recreationists and agriculture if it decreases the amount of water in the popular Smith River.

Water-rights holders should be concerned about the planned mine, Mark Aagenes of Trout Unlimited said in the article.

Johnson, who also is a lobbyist for Tintina, called those comments "a clear attempt to frighten farmers and ranchers in the area."

She wrote that MMA members should respond to the article by considering outfitters other than Yellow Dog Flyfishing Adventures, which is Grigg's former employer. Johnson mistakenly wrote in the memo that Grigg is currently employed by the Bozeman outfitter.

The association has dozens of mining companies, corporations and individuals as members and associated members.

Johnson said she wrote the memo as head of the organization and it was not reflective of her role as a lobbyist.

Tintina vice president of exploration Jerry Zieg said he did not believe Johnson was calling for a boycott of Yellow Dog, nor would he support a boycott.

But a lot of misinformation has circulated around the mining project, he said.

"It leads to a lot of speculation," he said. "People can come to us and get the facts rather than start speculating about all the bad things that might happen."

Yellow Dog Flyfishing Adventures had nothing to do with the content of Grigg's article, but it was spot-on, said the outfitter's director of operations, Jim Klug.

Aagenes said he stands by his comments in the article.

"It's interesting that the MMA wants to take on Field and Stream, Trout Unlimited and Yellow Dog, which is a very reputable outfitter," Aagenes said. "Those are three organizations with a long history."

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Information from: Independent Record, http://www.helenair.com

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