Critics skeptical of mining company’s plans for restoration

Midas Gold hopes to reopen and revitalize an abandoned gold mining site in Idaho.

 

The Stibnite mine site as it looks today.
Courtesy of Midas Gold

BACKSTORY

In 1998, Dakota Mining Corp. abandoned the Stibnite mine in Idaho’s Payette National Forest. After a century of mining, nearly 4 million cubic yards of tailings and cyanide-tainted water threatened the source of the Salmon River’s South Fork, with reclamation estimated at more than $1 million (“Paying for a gold mine,” HCN, 3/15/99). In 2016, Midas Gold Corp. proposed building one of the nation’s largest open-pit gold mines at the site and also producing antimony for batteries and munitions. Midas has promised to remedy earlier mining damage, calling its planning document a “plan of restoration and operations” rather than just a “plan of operations.”

FOLLOWUP

Tribes and conservation groups have expressed growing skepticism, since nearly 60 percent of development would take place on previously un-mined land. In early October, the Nez Perce Tribe announced its formal opposition, citing potential harm to treaty rights and fish. A draft environmental impact statement is expected in 2019, with a final decision from the Forest Service in 2020.

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