Wednesday January 11, 2023

Center for Biological Diversity

A planned open-pit cyanide leach gold mine in Idaho’s Salmon River Mountains would jeopardize public health and clean water, harm endangered species, violate Indigenous treaty rights and permanently scar thousands of acres of public land in the headwaters of the South Fork Salmon River, a coalition of local and national conservation groups said.

In comments submitted Monday to the U.S. Forest Service, the groups urged the Service to reject the proposed Stibnite Gold Project, which would resume mining activities in the Stibnite Mining District in the Payette National Forest. Instead, the groups said, officials should accelerate clean-up efforts at the site, which is an eligible Superfund site polluted from decades of historic cyanide leach gold mining and milling.

The mining company, Perpetua Resources, wants to double the size of the historic mine site to 3,265 acres and excavate three open-pit mines. The proposed Yellow Pine pit would extend more than 700 feet beneath the East Fork South Fork Salmon River, requiring the river to be rerouted through a concrete tunnel during mining activities until the pit is eventually backfilled with mine waste.

The project also requires constructing an industrial ore-processing facility, burying pristine bull trout habitat beneath 100 million tons of toxic mine tailings, building miles of new access roads and electrical transmission lines through inventoried roadless areas, and providing on-site housing and services for hundreds of workers. The estimated life of the mine is 20-25 years.

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