Co. wants to test drill for copper near St. Helens

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SEATTLE (AP) -- A Canadian company wants to continue test drilling for copper and other minerals near Mount St. Helens in Washington state, but environmentalists worry the move could open the door to mine development near a national monument.

Ascot Resources is seeking permits from the Bureau of Land Management to drill 63 small holes on federal forest land, mostly within the blast zone of the 1980 volcanic eruption. The company wants to explore both private and public mineral estates.

Ascot's Bob Evans says the area is rich in copper but the company won't know for certain until it explores. He says it's too early to know whether the company will proceed with a mine.

BLM officials have scheduled public meetings Wednesday and Thursday to begin evaluating the company's plans.