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Gold miner must repair damage in neighbor dispute

By The Associated Press
Published On: Apr 24 2013 10:51:18 AM MDT
HELENA, Mont. -

A man who owns a small gold mine just south of Helena has been ordered to repair property damage and pay attorneys' fees to his neighbors who sued over damage to a 30-foot buffer zone between the man's open pit mine and their land.
Pretty Girl mine owner Al Ballard was sued by his neighbors in a dispute over whether dirt sloughing off from the buffer zone into the mine pit equated to Ballard excavating. The Montana Supreme Court ruled it did in 2011 and this month, District Judge Kathy Seeley ordered Ballard to restore the buffer zone by June 1.
She also ordered Ballard to pay over $24,000 in attorneys' fees, plus interest, to neighbors Russell and Melissa Levens. Seeley also fined Ballard $20,000.