Comment Period Ends with Strong Community Support

Comment Period Ends with Strong Community Support

After 75 days and thousands of letters, the comment period on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Stibnite Gold Project is officially closed. As of midnight (Mountain Daylight Time) on Wednesday, October 28, regulators at the U.S. Forest Service had uploaded more than 9,508 letters into the public reading room, the vast majority of which were in support of the project.

Our team is very excited to be one step closer to bringing the Stibnite Gold Project to life and recognizing the environmental, economic, employment and community benefits we’ve been speaking about for the past decade.

“On behalf of the entire team at Midas Gold, we want to say thank you to everyone who took the time to participate in the public comment process,” said Laurel Sayer, CEO of Midas Gold Idaho. “We are grateful for your feedback because we know it will be incredibly valuable as we work to finalize the plan for the Stibnite Gold Project. Over the last several years, our team has worked hard to collect feedback from the community. We’ve listened to what people told us and used it to refine our plan and develop Alternative 2, where we successfully reduced the footprint and impacts of our project. It is our hope that we can continue working with regulators to further refine our plan after considering the latest feedback provided to the U.S. Forest Service.”

Thousands of Idahoans participated in the public comment process in a meaningful way.  We were grateful to see letters of support from the people who live closest to our proposed project, businesses who we have been fortunate enough to partner with over the years, community leaders, statewide organizations, elected officials and Idahoans who care deeply about the outdoors. The letters received throughout this comment period show there is strong, local support for the Stibnite Gold Project. In fact, throughout the entire comment period, the vast majority of comment letters entered into the public reading room were in support of the Stibnite Gold Project, while many had good points and useful suggestions that will be considered as part of the ongoing review of the project.

“As it stands, the community is faced with two choices of what to do with Stibnite Mining District: leave it in its current condition, and hope the government will fix the environmental problems there, or put it to use and allow private investment to fix it,” wrote Matt Huber, owner of The Corner restaurant in Yellow Pine in his letter to regulators. “Given the tremendous economic and environmental benefits that development would bring to this area, it’s clear what course should be taken.” Later in his letter, he added, “Those concerned about the environmental impact once the project begins, need not worry. Midas Gold Idaho has an extensively detailed plan in place to minimize the project’s environmental footprint. Throughout this process, they have worked diligently with federal regulators to address any concerns. Environmental protection is part of their corporate culture and they back that up with millions of dollars, hours, and resources spent to get their Plan of Operations and Restoration right.”

If permitted, the Stibnite Gold Project would produce gold, silver and the only domestically mined source of antimony in the United States. The U.S. Department of Interior designated antimony as a critical mineral for its uses in the national defense, aerospace and technology industries. Our company would invest approximately $1 billion in construction, provide approximately 500 direct, family-wage jobs for Idahoans as well as numerous indirect jobs in the community. Reviewing the letters, it is clear jobs are on the minds of many Idahoans with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Jeff Blaser, Superintendent of the Cascade School District, wrote, “Midas Gold has been very supportive of education and as this project continues to move forward it is apparent how it can give families and students local career opportunities they haven’t had in past years. The projected jobs will allow families opportunities to live and work without having to leave Valley County for employment. I believe Midas Gold will be a part of the new future and help Valley County become more prosperous.”

We’ve said it since we first started exploring the site, the historical Stibnite Mining District is in desperate need of environmental repair. Much of the mining that took place at site, particularly during World War II and the Korean War, occurred during a time where there were little to no environmental regulations. It is not surprising that many legacy issues exist at the site today.

There are high levels of arsenic and antimony in the ground and surface water from unconstrained tailings. A failed hydroelectric dam is the single largest source of sedimentation in the watershed. And salmon have been blocked from their native spawning grounds by an abandoned mining pit for more than 80 years.

We designed the Stibnite Gold Project from the outset to use modern, responsible mining to restore the area by providing the expertise and financial resources necessary to fix the legacy issues that remain. For example, the DEIS concludes restoring the East Fork of the South Fork of the Salmon River to open blocked fish migration will assist the productivity for fish at Stibnite (Ch 4.12 Fish Resources – 4.12-33) and that removing legacy materials will improve water quality (Ch. 4 Section 4.9).  The comment period showed many community members support our plans to restore the site.

In her comment letter to the U.S. Forest Service, Sandra Mitchell wrote, “After a decade of conducting scientific analysis and working with multiple local, state, and federal regulatory bodies and agencies, Midas Gold has put together a comprehensive plan to restore the environment surrounding the Stibnite mine in a way that works for local residents, communities, and recreationalists that love this area.”

As a company, we have always understood how important the backcountry is for Idahoans and, throughout the development of our plans, we worked closely with local groups to ensure everyone can still enjoy the places they love. We were happy to see some community members endorsed our access plans in their letters.

“When Midas Gold first proposed its plan for the Stibnite Mining District, we were concerned about continued access to the area given their need for road closures and road design changes during the project,” wrote in Mark Wood, President of the McCall Area Snowmobile Club. “These concerns were alleviated once it became clear Midas Gold was aware that maintaining access to the backcountry is important to Idahoans and designed their plan accordingly. Their travel plans to and from the site priorities safety for Idahoans while taking care to maintain access for all types of recreational activities from hiking to hunting to fishing and of course, snowmobiling.”

Working closely with the community has always been, and will continue to be, one of our strongest corporate values. Some of the individuals we have had the privilege of working with as we developed the project, including former Idaho Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter, told regulators about their own experiences with Midas Gold.

“During my time as Governor, I was fully informed about the process by which the Stibnite Gold Project was developing and it is my experience that Midas Gold has been extremely transparent throughout the planning process for the Stibnite Gold Project,” Gov. Otter concluded in his letter. “The company has worked with local residents and businesses to provide information and has updated and refined their plans for development and restoration based on the feedback of local communities. Also, the Company has collaborated with regulators at the local, state, and federal levels to ensure full compliance with environmental regulations, and then some.”

The number of comments received by the U.S. Forest Service shows individuals who wanted to participate in the public comment period were given adequate time. In fact, with the two extensions, our comment period was 67 percent longer than what was required under federal law and longer than the average of the last five public comment periods for mining projects in Idaho. Our team knows how long the Draft Environmental Impact Statement was and we are grateful Idahoans were given addition time to comment on our project.

Now that the comment period is over, regulators will start to review the comments and evaluate what modifications should or can be made to the Stibnite Gold Project to make it even better. Once all of this feedback has been analyzed, the U.S. Forest Service will release a final EIS sometime in the second quarter of 2021, followed by a Record of Decision, which is currently scheduled to be issued late in the third quarter of 2021.

We still have a lot of work ahead us, so please keep an eye on our blog and website to stay up to date with our team.

Again, thank you so much to everyone who made their voice heard.