Mining

An 11-year state and federal study of selenium pollution in a southeastern Idaho watershed where some 700 sheep, cattle and horses have died over the last several decades after grazing in contaminated areas has found the toxin is likely moving through groundwater.

The 36-page study on the Upper Blackfoot River Watershed released earlier this month by the U.S. Geological Survey also found that selenium levels spiked in the river during spring thaw.

Researchers say the inactive Maybe Canyon Mine is producing the most contamination.

Two mines in northern Idaho have agreed to merge.

The Coeur d'Alene Press reports that U.S. Silver will merge with Scorpio Mining Corp. The companies announced the merger Friday.

U.S. Silver owns and operates the Galena Mine complex in the Silver Valley's Coeur d'Alene Mining District, which is just west of Wallace. Scorpio is a Toronto-based silver producer, which owns the Nuestro Senora Mine in Mexico.

Darren Blasutti will become the president and chief executive officer of the new management team.

stonebraker
University of Idaho Library

William Allen Stonebraker worked and played in the rugged central Idaho wilderness at the turn of the 20th century and he's left behind a unique legacy of photographs to tell his story. That photo collection has just been released by the University of Idaho Library.

Cariboo Regional District Emergency Operations Centre

A dam break at a central British Columbia mine could threaten salmon fisheries in the Pacific Northwest.

Mount Polley is an open-pit copper and gold mine roughly 400 miles north of Seattle. A dam holding back water and silt leftover from the mining process broke Monday. It released enough material to fill more than 2,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

Government regulators have not yet determined its content. But documents show it could contain sulfur, arsenic and mercury.

It's been over three years since a tunnel collapse at a north Idaho silver mine killed miner Larry Marek. Yet federal records show a series of federal penalties issued to the mine's owners still have not been paid.

Federal officials say a miner has died at the Sunshine Mine near Kellogg in northern Idaho.

The Mine Safety and Health Administration says the miner died about 2 p.m. Monday after becoming caught between a mine shaft and a device called a skip transporting miners.

Agency spokeswoman Amy Louviere says two miners were on top of the skip when it moved before one was clear.

She says the second miner avoided injury.

The agency has dispatched investigators to the mine.

Coeur d'Alene River, water, Idaho
Threefatcats / Flickr Creative Commons

Federal officials plan to spend $38 million in northern Idaho's Coeur d'Alene River Basin this summer cleaning up toxic pollution left from a century worth of mining in the region.

The Environmental Protection Agency tells the Coeur d'Alene Press that up to 125 residential and commercial properties will be cleaned up.

Agency spokesman Ed Moreen says that more than 17 miles of paved roads in eight upper basin communities will be repaired or replaced.

idaho gold mine
Michallaurence / Flickr Creative Commons

Chris Cora stands on what used to be a mountaintop in the Umpqua Basin of southern Oregon. Now, it’s essentially a landfill. “Filled with waste rock and tailings," Cora says. "There’s actually zinc ore in here. Well, it’s concentrated zinc, which is really bad for the environment.”

A conservation group and the Nez Perce Tribe have filed a lawsuit against three federal agencies seeking to stop a central Idaho gold mine exploration project by a Canadian company.

The tribe and the Idaho Conservation League filed the lawsuit Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Idaho against the U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Marine Fisheries Service.

Photo by Hecla Mining

Four miners who were injured and trapped by a rock burst at a northern Idaho mine two years ago are suing Hecla Mining Co., alleging mine mangers sent them into unsafe working conditions while assuring them the area was safe.

The Spokesman-Review reports Ronnel E. Barrett, Gregg Hammerberg, Eric J. Tester and Matthew Williams are seeking more than $1 million for injuries, medical treatment and lost wages.

Idaho Gold Mine, Yellow Pine Pit
Courtesy Midas Gold Corp.

Canadian mining company Midas Gold says it's making progress on its Golden Meadows project near Stibnite, Idaho.  The company says it continues to advance the project on several fronts. The ultimate goal is to mine gold in the East Fork of the South Fork of the Salmon River.

The Shoshone News Press reports more than 30 percent of Galena employees will be affected. During a mandatory meeting in Wallace, Idaho, U.S. Silver and Gold laid off 126 workers.

Aaron Kunz / EarthFix

A U.S. Supreme Court ruling Monday makes it harder for miners to gain access to Northwest rivers. Environmental groups hailed the decision as a major victory.

The owner of the troubled Lucky Friday Mine in north Idaho hopes new safety upgrades will prevent future accidents. Hecla Mining announced Tuesday that it’s reopened the silver mine in Mullan, Idaho, after a year-long closure.

Hecla President Phil Baker made the announcement at a press conference in Spokane.

“It's nice to be able to give you guys a good news story.”

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.

Mine Safety and Health Administration

The high price of silver is bringing one of the Northwest's oldest silver mines back online. The Sunshine Mine in north Idaho is known for one of the worst mining disasters in the nation’s history. It will resume production in late 2014.

Audit Pushed To Rekindle Mining Act Reforms

Dec 13, 2012
Hecla Mining

A report released Wednesday indicates the United States government has no idea exactly how much gold, silver and copper is being dug up from public lands. Lawmakers say it’s one more reason to overhaul a mining law from the 1800s.

When companies drill for oil, natural gas or coal, they must report how much they obtain. And they pay royalties for the minerals they extract. That puts $10 billion into the U.S. Treasury every year, according to the Government Accountability Office.

Aaron Kunz / EarthFix

A gold miner who got the go-ahead to dredge a half mile section of the Salmon River in Idaho may be calling it quits.

Mike Conklin of Grangeville, Idaho told the Idaho Department of Lands he won’t be signing the lease he worked for this past summer. The lease approved by the State Land Board would have given him the exclusive right to mine on a half mile of the Salmon River three hours north of Boise.

Aaron Kunz / EarthFix

A recreational gold miner in Idaho now has the exclusive right to mine for gold on a stretch of the Salmon River. But the lease process approved by the Idaho Land Board this week raised some questions about the process he will use to get the gold.

There are hundreds of miles on the Salmon River where the only noise you’ll hear is rushing water and wildlife. But in certain places during the summer you might hear engines.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

A judge has ordered the U.S. Forest Service to take another look at plans to expand exploratory drilling in the mountains near Idaho City.  U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge issued a ruling Thursday that essentially vacates the environmental assessment produced by the agency on the CuMo Mine project.

Lodge concluded the agency acted arbitrarily in determining that expanded drilling would not significantly impact groundwater sources.

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