Mining

Brennan Linsley / AP Photo

The Idaho Conservation League joined other environmental groups Wednesday to challenge a relaxation of federal mining pollution rules.

BABS / Flickr

The South Fork of the Salmon River just made the list of America’s most endangered rivers of 2018.


VCU CNS / Flickr

An exchange between the boss of Idaho’s Hecla Mining Company and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is ringing alarm bells in some circles.

The brief interaction between Hecla Mining CEO Phillips Baker Jr. and Interior Secretary Zinke happened in October.

John Miller / AP Photo

Two federal agencies have approved a 2.4-mile-long open pit phosphate mine proposed by a Canadian company in southeastern Idaho.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service late last week issued separate decisions approving the plan by Calgary-based Agrium Inc.

The BLM manages the area where the mining will occur, while the Forest Service manages land that will receive waste materials.

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

The Obama administration offered five possible plans Thursday for limiting mining on federal land in the West to protect the vulnerable greater sage grouse, but it isn't saying which it prefers.

The options range from banning new mining activity on about 15,000 square miles for up to 20 years to imposing no additional restrictions on mine locations.

The rules would affect sage grouse habitat on federal land in Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Wyoming.

Parolan Harahap / Flickr

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.

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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.

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