Company moving ahead with plan to mine 4 million ounces of gold in central Idaho

IndustrialsAssociated Press

Work could start in a little more than three years on a central Idaho mine containing as much as 4 million ounces of recoverable gold, a mining company official says.

Midas Gold Inc. Vice President Anne Labelle told lawmakers on the Senate Resources and Environment Committee on Monday that the Stibnite Mine Project near Yellow Pine also has about 2 million ounces of silver.

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The site also contains, she said, about 100 million pounds of antimony, a metal that has a variety of uses. An important use is adding it to other metals to impart additional strength.

Labelle told lawmakers that if the mine were operating today, it would be the fourth largest in the country in terms of production. "This is a significant project not only for Idaho, but for the United States," she said.

The company owns the land and mineral rights on three areas where deposits are located, but it is working on getting permits from the U.S. Forest Service because some work will be on public land, Labelle said.

The company has been working to meet the concerns of area residents, she said, and it plans sometime this summer to submit its plan to the Forest Service. The process to get Forest Service permits takes three to five years, but she's optimistic it will be closer to three years, Labelle said.

Midas Gold Inc. is a Boise-based branch of Midas Gold Corp., headquartered in Vancouver in British Columbia, Canada.

The company's work will include getting gold out of tailings left by previous mining efforts over the decades that only recovered about 80 percent of gold, Labelle said. New technologies will let Midas Gold Inc. recover the other 20 percent, which she noted adds up to about 100,000 ounces.

Mining the tailings will fit in with reclamation efforts, which include removing the Yellow Pine Pit that blocks fish passage and making a more natural landscape, she said.

If approved, the length of the project is about 20 years. That timeframe includes about three years to get the mine running, 12 years of production, and some additional years to do reclamation work, Labelle said.

There was no public comment. The presentation was only by the company and a mining industry spokesman, who presented a slide show about the significance of mining to the state.

"It's amazing how much mining adds to the economy," said the committee chairman, Sen. Steve Bair, R-Blackfoot.