Midas Gold

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.

A Canadian company proposing a gold mine in central Idaho says it's undeterred by a U.S. Geological Survey study that found more extensive pollution than previously thought from historic mining in the area.

Midas Gold Corp. President and CEO Stephen Quin says the 4.6 million ounces of gold the company expects to recover near the town of Yellow Pine means cleaning up a century worth of past-mining activities as part of the project is feasible.

Aaron Kunz / EarthFix

Mining has pumped billions of dollars into the Idaho economy. It’s one of the states considered by the industry to be the most mining-friendly.

But even here, the industry is frustrated that it can take years before permits are issued and work can get underway. That’s why mining officials are appealing to state lawmakers to help speed up the regulatory process. It’s a proposition that has environmentalists worried.