ASK MIDAS: WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR ACCESSING THE SITE?

Community, News, Safety |

ASK MIDAS: WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR ACCESSING THE SITE?

Midas Gold Idaho wants to keep the community informed about the work we are doing at the Stibnite Gold Project site. The Ask Midas blog series gives the experts in our company a chance to answer some of the community’s most frequently asked questions and help clear up any misconceptions around the project.

The Stibnite Gold Project is located 39 miles east of McCall and just outside the village of Yellow Pine. To get there today, you have to travel on narrow, winding dirt roads right alongside major fish-bearing creeks and rivers. When we were developing our plan for the redevelopment and restoration of the Stibnite site, we wanted to find the safest way for our employees to get to the site during mining while minimizing our impacts on, and risks to, the environment. Today, I want to give you more details about our plans to access the site during construction, operations and restoration.

WHAT YOUR PLANS FOR TRAVELING TO AND FROM THE SITE?

Under our plan, we propose to upgrade Burntlog Road starting at Landmark in order to access the site utilizing existing Forest Service roads wherever possible.  This route will allow us to stay away from major fish-bearing creeks and rivers, avoid known avalanche sites in the winter and reduce potential conflicts with other folks who use the South Fork and Johnson Creek Roads.  We believe it will take us one year to upgrade Burntlog Road and connect it to the existing Thunder Mountain Road, once our plan is approved.  We would continue to use the South Fork, Johnson Creek and Stibnite roads until the upgrades are complete.

Our plans for travel to and from the project site were designed to prioritize the safety of our employees and Idahoans, given the frequent avalanches and rock falls that occur along the South Fork and Stibnite roads as well as the presence of local residents and road users.  We know that continued access is a very important issue for many Idahoans, so our plan tries to maintain recreational access so that Idahoans can continue to safely hike, hunt, fish, snowmobile and explore the areas surrounding the site much as they do today.  This is why, after hearing feedback from the public, we submitted an additional proposal for regulators to consider allowing public access to Thunder Mountain on Stibnite Road from Yellow Pine and through the site when it is safe and feasible, in addition to access along the improved Burntlog Road. Temporary closures would still occur seasonally, and when needed, because of activity at site.  During construction and operations, we will be using very large equipment and, at times, we will need to us explosives to break ore and development rock.  We don’t want to take any unnecessary risks that could jeopardize people’s safety, so would keep people clear at these times, usually once per day.

We know Thunder Mountain is an important place for Idahoans and, no matter what, the community will still be able to access the area during construction and operations of our project by using Trapper Flats Road and Landmark to Burntlog Road. We believe strongly in protecting public lands and maintaining Idahoans access to the backcountry.

This region has also become a popular winter destination for snowmobilers. We want to make sure recreationalists continue to have access to their favorite places so, in the winter, we would plow Warm Lake Road up to Landmark and provide a parking lot at the end of where we stop plowing. We have also proposed groomed access to Landmark using the Cabin Creek/Trout Creek Trail.

We know many people are curious about the vehicles we will have traveling to and from the site, once our project is approved. The truth is, the vehicles will be similar to what you see on the roads today.  We will have buses, vans and other light vehicles in addition to larger trucks to transport materials and supplies.  We estimate we will need to make 65 round trips per day during construction and operations. A third of these trips would be made using the light vehicles like you see us driving in today.

Our plan was designed to minimize trips on the road in order to increase safety and sustainability. We will drive 90 percent of our employees to the site on buses and have them work in a two-week work cycles in order to have less traffic to and from the project site. We will also consolidate supplies and shipments at our Stibnite Gold Logistics Facility in Scott Valley so that we can make as few trips as possible.  In our plan, we committed to transporting goods Monday through Friday during business hours as much as possible to reduce traffic during peak travel times. We will also have pilot vehicles to escort trucks carrying fuel and sensitive loads and all of our large trucks will be required to use muffled engine breaks to reduce noise.

If we can reduce traffic on the road, we can help keep travelers safe, reduce dust generation and sediment runoff and reduce production of greenhouse gas emissions from extra vehicles on the road. Again, we know how much Idahoans love the backcountry and maintaining access to the places people love is important to us as we live here too. We are continuing to work with the surrounding communities so that our final plan is the best one possible.