Montana environmental officials are backing the expansion of a gold mine near Whitehall that would allow its operations to continue for another two years.
An environmental study released by the state on Thursday proposes allowing the Golden Sunlight mine to expand one mining pit and add a new one. A final decision is due in January.
Department of Environmental Quality Director Tracy Stone-Manning says the agency's recommended permit conditions will make sure polluted water can be captured.
The change to the mine's 1972 permit would allow the mine to continue operating until 2017. That's two years beyond prior projections.
The mine, owned by Barrick Gold Corp. of Canada, announced some buyouts last month that will leave it with 193 employees.