Gold Mine

idaho gold mine
Michallaurence / Flickr Creative Commons

Federal officials have started an environmental analysis of a Canadian company's proposal for three open-pit gold mines in central Idaho.

The U.S. Forest Service said Monday it's preparing an Environmental Impact Statement for a plan by Midas Gold Corp. to unearth what it says are an estimated 4 million ounces of gold.

Company officials say the 20-year project about 3 miles east of the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness would generate 1,000 well-paying jobs and save taxpayers money by cleaning up past mining activities.

John Robison / Idaho Conservation League

The accidental release of toxins into the Animas River in Colorado is a reminder of the long-term effects of mining. The decades-old gold mine had been dormant, but the toxins from the operation breached a dam there on the Environmental Protection Agency's watch.

Environmentalists around the West are pointing to the disaster, saying what happened in Colorado could happen in other states — including Idaho.

The U.S. Forest Service has approved a gold mining company's plan to reopen a 4-mile road in a central Idaho wilderness and drill core samples to find out if two of its claims are profitable enough to be mined.

The federal agency in a statement Tuesday says Payette National Forest Supervisor Keith Lannom approved American Independence Mines and Minerals Co.'s plan in the Frank Church River Of No Return Wilderness.