“If we’re going to have a mine, it’s going to be the best damn mine in the world.”
– Paul Hawks, Past Northern Plains Chair
Good Neighbor Agreement
Our History Tells Us…
Northern Plains has a legacy of looking beyond our fences, keeping our minds open, and finding creative solutions to protect our communities. Watch to learn what “Our History Tells Us” about collaborating and negotiating a 20 year agreement with Sibanye-Stillwater Mining Company to enforce water quality standards, that has stood the test of time:
Our vision for the Good Neighbor Agreement
We are local resident volunteers that work together to protect our land, water, and communities. We work through the Good Neighbor Agreement, a legally binding contract between Stillwater Mining Company and local community organizations. The process is collaborative, proactive, and precautionary. We have, over time, built trust and transparency.
We love pristine water, scenic beauty, night skies, and safe roads. We believe it is possible to protect our natural landscapes and rural quality of life while allowing responsible mineral development.
We envision maintaining a clean and healthful environment where potential adverse impacts from mining are minimized and our communities remain thriving.
For the past 20 years, the GNA has proven successful in protecting our rivers and rural communities. However, we can’t stop now. Not only are the mines expanding, but we can also provide an example of what is possible when everyday people come together and get creative.
Click here to read the Good Neighbor Agreement contract.
How it started
For years, Northern Plains members fought against Stillwater Mining Company to protect water quality and the communities in Stillwater and Sweet Grass Counties. In 2000, spurred by action taken by Northern Plains members, the two sides worked together and negotiated an agreement to extend protections beyond state requirements to protect property, water, and area communities, while allowing platinum and palladium mining to proceed. The legally binding contract established a process for citizens to regularly meet with company representatives to address and prevent problems related to mining impacts, reclamation, wildlife, and other issues. The Good Neighbor Agreement has protected land with conservation easements, instituted a busing program to responsibly manage traffic on winding valley roads, and provided for independent environmental audits.
After 20 years under the Good Neighbor Agreement, members are still working and negotiating with Stillwater Mining Company to develop new strategies to diminish the effects a long-term mine can have on water quality and rural communities. Today’s major efforts include groundwater monitoring, consistent sampling of surface water and biologic health, and novel technology use and development.
To learn about the origins of the GNA, please read our short history, “The Story of the Good Neighbor Agreement.”
The Good Neighbor Agreement provides for citizen oversight of mining operations to ensure protection of the area’s quality of life and productive agricultural land;
- Establishes clear and enforceable water quality standards, as set out in the Adaptive Management Plans for each mine site, that go above and beyond state requirements;
- Provides local communities with access to critical information about mining operations and the opportunity to address potential problems before they occur;
- Ensures public safety and security while protecting the interest of miners through traffic plans designed to reduce mining traffic on country roads;
- Raises the bar for environmental excellence by setting goals and objectives for developing new technologies. This is accomplished through a cooperative framework of local citizens, third-party experts, and the mining company.
What You Can Do
The success of the Good Neighbor Agreement depends on the volunteer efforts and commitment of local citizens. The Good Neighbor Agreement is only strong because local Northern Plains members are working with mine representatives to ensure that the solutions envisioned by the Agreement become reality.
Members of Northern Plains can participate in the Good Neighbor Agreement by:
- Helping take water samples or come to annual biomonitoring to prevent mine activities from having an effect on water quality.
- Assisting in the efforts of the oversight or responsible mining technology committees. These members develop our campaigns and work directly with the mine.
If you are interested in working on the agreement, or in volunteering, please call us at (406) 248-1154.