Proposed Elbow Lake Aggregate Project

The Montana Department of Transportation bid and awarded a contract to reconstruct a portion of Montana Highway 83 near Salmon Lake. The project was awarded to Kiewit, who has subcontracted LHC, Inc., to provide aggregate for the project. 

LHC has applied for an aggregate take and remove permit from the Minerals Management Bureau of the DNRC. They will also apply to the Montana DEQ's Opencut Mining Bureau for an Opencut Permit. The proposed project area is in the NE4NE4 of Section 20, Township 15N, Range 14W. Currently, LHC, Inc., is permitted to haul aggregate to the project from a source north of Browns Lake. This is approximately a 50 mile round trip along highways 200 and 83. The permitting of the site at Elbow Lake would cut the 50 mile round trip down to a two mile round trip.

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Explanation of Permits

To mine aggregate on State Trust Lands in Montana, an operator must obtain two separate permits. The first permit is issued by the Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), it is required for any opencut operation in the state. It sets forth parameters for operation, bonding, and reclamation.

DEQ Opencut Mining

The second permit is a requirement of DNRC for proposed mining actions to occur on Montana State Trust Lands. This permit is administered through the Minerals Management Bureau and sets forth a contract of payment for aggregate royalties. It may also include further stipulations as implemented by the Department beyond those required through the opencut permit.


Environmental Considerations

Per the Montana Environmental Policy Act (MEPA), state agencies are required to conduct an environmental analysis of proposed permits and projects to consider all factors necessary in making a decision. For this project, LHC Inc., is applying to the Montana DEQ for an opencut mining permit and to the Montana DNRC's Minerals Management Bureau for an aggregate take and remove permit. Both agencies will conduct separate environmental assessments during the permitting application process which are used to inform the decision on whether or not to issue the permit.

Public Involvement

The DNRC encourages public participation during MEPA analysis. A comment period on the proposed project is open for 30 days beginning March 16, 2023, at 8:00 a.m. and will end April 16 at 5:00 p.m. Comments can be submitted online or via mail to this address: Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, Minerals Management Bureau, Attn: Zack Winfield, 1539 11th Ave, Helena, MT, 59601.


Comments can also be submitted on the DEQ opencut application submitted by LHC, Inc. More information on commenting on the application submitted to DEQ and the comment process is available online.

DEQ Public Comment

Project Consideration

When Montana was accepted into the Union through the Enabling Act in 1889, the Congress of the United States granted to the state of Montana, for Common Schools (K-12) support, sections 16 and 36 in every township of the state. Today, the The Trust Lands Management Division of the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation oversees the management of 5.2 million surface acres and 6.2 million subsurface acres of the lands known as State Trust Lands. Trust Lands remain working lands that are leased to create revenue from a variety of activities. One of the many sources of revenue generated on Trust Lands is through sand, gravel and rock (aggregate) royalties. The Trust receives a dollar amount for every cubic yard of aggregate extracted and removed from state lands. The Trust that would benefit from potential gravel royalties on this project is the Pine Hills School.

Consideration of projects like this align with the Trust's fiduciary mandate as outlined within MCA 77-1-601 "It is in the best interest and to the great advantage of the state of Montana to seek the highest development of state-owned lands in order that they might be placed to their highest and best use and thereby derive greater revenue for the support of the common schools, the university system, and other institutions benefiting therefrom, and that in so doing the economy of the local community as well as the state is benefited as a result of the impact of such development."



Contact Zack Winfield for questions on the project.

Zack Winfield
Petroleum Engineer, PE

We value your input.

Submit comments on the proposed project through 5 p.m. on April 16, 2023.

Comment Online

LHC, Inc. Aggregate Take and Remove Permit Application