BLM Considers New Bentonite Mine Outside Thermopolis
Written by Andrew-Rossi on December 22, 2020
The potential new mine in Hot Springs County would cover over 500 acres and bring over 50 jobs to the area – if it moves forward.
Wyo-Ben, Inc., a private mining company headquartered in Billings, wants to mine bentonite from claims on BLM-managed federal land. The plan of operations includes approximately 567 acres of mining and haul road disturbance on a swath of public land located 12 miles northwest of Thermopolis.
The Bureau of Land Management is in control of the land where the claims are located. The full plan and environmental assessment submitted to the BLM by Wyo-Ben is available for review at the BLM Worland field office.
During the lifetime of the project, Wyo-Ben would excavate around 700,000 tons of bentonite from the claims. To accomplish this, the company anticipates employing 20 mine employees, 35 mill employees, and other contractors as they are needed.
BLM Worland Field Manager Mike Phillips has endorsed the project, saying
“The BLM analyzes and supports the development of sustainable mining projects like this for the benefit of the local community and economy,” he said.
Bentonite is a volcanic clay used in dozens of industrial applications, including oil and gas drilling, construction, paints, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, and other consumer products. It’s one of the main ingredients in most major cat litter brands.
Wyo-Ben’s mission is “to provide the highest quality mineral-based technology solutions, with the highest level of service excellence to our customers” while also “ (adding) to the vitality of our community (and being) responsible stewards of our environment.”
The BLM has opened a public comment period on the proposed mine, which opened Monday, Dec. 21, will remain open thru Jan. 19.
Comments may be submitted online or emailed to email@example.com.