NEWS: Efforts to Address Water Quality at Site & Litigation will Continue Side by Side

NEWS: Efforts to Address Water Quality at Site & Litigation will Continue Side by Side

Midas Gold remains as committed as ever to cleaning up the abandoned Stibnite Mining District and providing the necessary resources to restore the East Fork of the South Fork of the Salmon River and improve water quality in the region. For the past several years, Midas Gold has been working closely with government regulators to gain permission to take action. We are eagerly awaiting regulators’ approval, so cleanup efforts can move forward.

Unfortunately, while Midas Gold has been working to address water quality issues on the ground, the Nez Perce Tribe decided to go to court.

On Thursday, January 9, 2020 U.S. District Judge Lynn B. Winmill decided to allow the Nez Perce Tribe’s lawsuit to move forward. Judge Winmill recognized that Midas Gold’s discussions with regulators may result in an agreement that requires dismissal of the lawsuit, but decided that the lawsuit could continue until such an agreement is imminent. The judge’s decision to deny a motion to stay in the case has no bearing on the final outcome and simply means the litigation will continue to work its way through the court. Thus, at the end of the day, the Tribe’s lawsuit still may prove wasteful as we are already permitting permanent solutions for the site .

“Above all else, we remain committed to advancing solutions to improve water quality and fish populations at the site,” said Laurel Sayer, CEO of Midas Gold Idaho. “We did not cause the problems facing the Stibnite Mining District but we are committed to being part of the solution. In fact, today, we are the only ones with a viable plan to address water quality in the historical mining district.”

In August of 2019, the Nez Perce Tribe filed a lawsuit claiming we are violating the Clean Water Act, despite the fact we have never operated at the site and that some of the claims are located on lands owned by the Federal government. Our actions have been limited to studying the current site conditions. The water quality issues that exist today were created by historical mining activity that dates back more than 80 years, during a time when little to no environmental regulations existed.

The Stibnite Mining District is naturally a highly mineralized area and there are over three million tons of tailings and tens of millions of tons of waste rock left over from from the World War II era at the site, so it is not unexpected to see high levels of metals in ground and surface water. Other similar issues have been identified across the site.  Elevated levels of arsenic and antimony have likely been a problem for decades and, unless action is taken, such conditions will continue to be an issue facing the mining district.

For almost three years, we have been meeting with environmental regulators on the issue of the site’s water quality. More recently, we formally began working closely with the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality, the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Forest Service, and the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes to gain permission to take action to learn more about the causes of degraded water quality. We have done so even though we are not responsible for the historic conditions.

We designed the Stibnite Gold Project to permanently address the problems facing the site – including reconnecting fish to their native spawning grounds, fixing the largest source of sedimentation in the river and removing tailings and waste that degrade water quality. With arsenic and antimony being detected at elevated levels, we believe it is important to work directly with regulators now to begin addressing degrading water quality.

It is our goal to improve water quality up at site. We hope to reach an agreement soon with the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality, the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Forest Service, and the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes to resolve these critical water quality issues on the ground and outside the courtroom. Please keep an eye on our blog for more updates on our efforts. If you would like to learn more about the lawsuit filed by the Nez Perce Tribe, we encourage you to read our past blogs, which can be found here and here.