- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 16, 2017

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) - A federal appellate panel has reversed a lower court ruling that condemned a group of mining claims in northwest Montana owned by a group of investors including former Gov. Brian Schweitzer.

Schweitzer and other investors in Optima, Inc. sought $10 million from the owners of the proposed Montanore gold and silver mine as compensation for having their claims condemned.

But U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen rejected Optima’s arguments in 2015. He said its mining claims had no value.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said in Wednesday’s ruling that Christensen should not have allowed the federal case to proceed while a lawsuit in state court was pending.

Schweitzer’s current involvement with Optima is uncertain. He could not be reached immediately for comment.

Montanore owner Hecla Mining is reviewing the ruling, spokesman Luke Russell says.

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