First material shipped out from East Helena slag pile

by Jonathon Ambarian, excerpt from KXLH, May 18, 2021

Aerial of the slag pile in East Helena. Photo courtesy of METG.

EAST HELENA — The material at the top of East Helena’s slag pile has been in the same place for more than 20 years. Now, some of that slag is being packaged up for a trip across the ocean.

Crews are currently working at the former ASARCO smelter site, putting together the first of many shipments. Over five years, they will send about 2 million tons of slag to South Korea, where it will be reprocessed.

“I think it’s going to be a great outcome for the environment and for the economy and the community of East Helena,” said Cindy Brooks, managing principal of the Montana Environmental Trust Group, which oversees the ongoing cleanup efforts at the smelter site.

METG reached an agreement with the New York company Metallica Commodities Corp. to remove the top layer of slag. The company will then turn it over to Korea Zinc Company, which will extract zinc and other metals from the material, then use what’s left over to make cement.

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