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Conservation groups are wary of a central Idaho mine proposal

The Stibnite mine project is located in portions of the Payette and Boise national forests. (Ecoflight)
Kristin Braga Wright
Picture of Idaho Mine

The U.S. Forest Service has released a Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Stibnite Gold Project, an open-pit mine in the headwaters of the East Fork of the South Fork Salmon River near McCall.

John Robison, public lands director for the Idaho Conservation League, said the area was mined for decades and was starting to bounce back from the environmental effects, but his and other conservation groups are concerned the new project will be a step backward.

"Even though the mining company is pitching this as a 'restoration' project, at its heart it remains an open-pit cyanide vat-leach mine that would basically transform the landscape and add millions of tons of toxic mining waste up in this headwater," Robison asserted.

Perpetua Resources, the company behind the project, said in a statement it is "providing hundreds of family-wage jobs for Idahoans, producing the only domestic mined source of antimony to protect our national security and supporting America's clean energy transition." The Forest Service has opened up a public comment period about the project through Jan. 10.

Robison noted the company had made some promises the project would include cleaning up the area, so his organization was interested in engaging and hearing more about the process.

"Unfortunately, what we've found so far in this project is it actually leaves the site worse off than it would be if nothing happened at all, particularly with regard to bull trout," Robison contended.

The Forest Service has scheduled three in-person meetings about the project, in McCall Dec. 6, Cascade Dec. 7 and Boise Dec. 9.