Mining

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The Environmental Protection Agency says it plans to require mining companies to show they have the financial wherewithal to clean up their pollution so taxpayers aren't stuck footing the bill.

Friday's announcement follows a 2015 court order for the agency to enforce a long-ignored provision in the 1980 federal Superfund law.

The requirement would apply to hard rock mining, which includes mines for precious metals and other ores.

Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

The Interior Department has updated a rule that governs activities like ranching, mining and gas drilling on federal land. Obama Administration officials say they aim to simplify the process for land development, while building in more transparency and public input.

John Robison / Idaho Conservation League

A gold mine located near the headwaters of the Boise River is again the subject of legal action by environmental groups.

In 2012, the U.S. District Court of Idaho ruled that the Atlanta Gold Corporation violated the Clean Water Act by dumping high levels of arsenic and iron into a creek that feeds the Boise River. The company took over control of the historic mine in the 1990s, and was ordered to pay two million dollars and reduce pollutants.

sage grouse, wildlife
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service / Flickr Creative Commons

The federal government is using a new assessment of mineral resources on 10 million acres in six Western states to decide whether to ban potential mining on the land to protect an imperiled bird.

Scientists completed the 800-page review requested by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, and it was released Tuesday. It looks at areas with high numbers of sage grouse and high-quality habitat for the bird.

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A federal judge has stopped exploratory drilling in the Boise National Forest near Idaho City that could lead to a large open pit mine. Judge Edward Lodge says the Forest Service did not consider all the environmental impacts before granting a Canadian company permission to drill. Lodge made a similar decision in 2012.

National Life Group

Wallace, Idaho was once one of the largest and most prosperous towns in the state. Situated beside Interstate 90 west of Coeur d'Alene and less than 100 miles from the Canadian border, the old mining town boomed around the turn of the 20th century. At its height, Wallace miners produced the most silver in the country, earning it the nickname "Silver Capital of the World."

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.

screengrab cumoco.com

The mining company American CuMo Mining Corporation and its subsidiary Idaho CuMo Mining Corporation have finalized an agreement with Boise County that will allow CuMo to begin exploring for valuable minerals in the Boise National Forest near Idaho City.

The Forest Service gave the company the go-ahead to begin road building and drilling more than a month ago. But project manager Joe Puccinelli says it took a little longer than expected to finish the legal agreement with the county for things like maintenance of roads the company will use extensively.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

The U.S. Forest Service this week gave American CuMo Mining Corporation the go-ahead to explore for molybdenum, copper and silver between Idaho City and Garden Valley. If CuMo finds enough of the metals, it will seek permission to build a large open pit mine.

Environmental groups have been challenging the project for years. They say the exploration process alone endangers the headwaters of the Boise River, let alone the proposed mine.

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.

A coalition of conservation groups and the Nez Perce tribe are challenging the U.S. Forest Service's approval of 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 claims are profitable enough to be mined.

The Idaho Conservation League and four other groups this month filed an objection with the federal agency as a first step in a potential lawsuit.

A House committee has advanced to the full Idaho House a bill aimed at eliminating federal Clean Water Act protections for suction dredges and also opening Wild and Scenic Rivers to the miners.

The bill before the House Resources and Conservation Committee on Wednesday narrowly avoided dying in committee amid constitutionality concerns with a first vote that ended in a 9-9 tie.

The committee than approved by voice vote sending the bill the full House but with an amendment.

Jason / Flickr Creative Commons

The U.S. Forest Service is asking for public comment on plans to build a road and bring drilling equipment to a remote area of Idaho's Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness.

American Independence Mines and Mineral Company wants to turn a profit on gold ore near Big Creek on the Payette National Forest.

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.

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