|Now, Idaho Cobalt Project says it will be a modern "green"
mine and not harm the Panther Creek area. In June, the
Salmon-Challis National Forest released its Record of Decision
(ROD) approving the mine. In August, Boulder-White Clouds
Council joined Earthworks (formerly Mineral Policy Center) to
appeal the decision. We are represented by attorney Roger
Flynn, Western Mining Action Project, who BWCC has partnered
with on three other central Idaho mines.
Mining Law Reform
Congress took no action in 2008 on
reforming the archaic 1872 Mining Law. Last November, the House
passed the Hardrock Mining and Reclamation Act of 2007, but the
Senate did not take up the bill or introduce their own. Efforts will
continue in the upcoming 111th Congress. HR 2262 is championed by
Rep. Nick Rahall, D-WV, House Natural Resources Committee Chair.
1872 Mining Law reform is crucial to Idaho’s clean water and
If passed, hardrock minerals taken
from public lands would be assessed an 8% royalty. Coal, oil and gas
extractors currently pay up to 12.5%. (Rep. Rahall is from West
Virginia, a coal mining state.) Patenting, the process where public
lands are sold to mining companies for $2.50 to $5.00 an acre, would
end. Reclamation bonds would reflect actual clean-up cost. Agencies
would be able to say no to mining in some areas.
Our appeal asked that
- meet a more stringent
- comply with a more
rigorous copper and mercury reduction plan
- conduct increased water
- undergo enhanced
Our negotiations with
Formation Capital have resulted in a settlement that meets the
terms above, plus the mine will post its monitoring results on
the internet. As our discussions were on-going, the Forest
withdrew its ROD, stating that some more environmental
protection criteria was needed. The project has also been
appealed by the Nez Perce Tribe, and by Noranda, whose parent
company is the world's largest cobalt producer. Noranda now
owns the old Blackbird Mine, which is near the Idaho Cobalt
Formation Capital hopes to
start construction in 2009. It owns 146 unpatented mining
claims covering over 2500 acres in rugged mountain terrain.
The mine would employ 157 workers with an annual payroll of
over $9 million.
By Lynne K. Stone, BWCC,
Bonnie Gestring, Earthworks, contributed to this story.