HELENA, Mont. — Environmental regulators are taking public comment on a proposed $250 million copper mine in central Montana.

The Montana Department of Environmental Quality has scheduled three scoping meetings between the end of October and early November and is preparing an environmental impact statement for the Black Butte Copper Project proposed by Tintina Montana.

The proposed mine would be located 17 miles (27 kilometers) north of White Sulphur Springs. The proposed mine would also be near the headwaters of the Smith River.

Supporters of the project say modern mining techniques will keep the environment safe while opponents argue that mining in Montana has historically led to contamination. They say the river is too valuable of a resource to risk.

The department is expected to finish the environmental impact statement within a year.