Efforts to Update 1971 Mining Act Advance at Statehouse

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Efforts to Update 1971 Mining Act Advance at Statehouse

IMPORTANT UPDATE: Midas Gold is happy to report Idaho lawmakers successfully passed House Bill 141, strengthening reclamation laws in order to protect Idaho lands and Idaho taxpayers.

Idaho Representatives took a major step forward to protect Idaho’s lands and taxpayers by passing House Bill 141 today. The bill, which will now be considered by the Senate, updates Idaho’s 1971 Surface Mining Act to mandate stronger financial backing and oversight to ensure the real cost of reclamation for mining projects is fully funded.

During testimony, Representative Jim Addis said, “Today, mining is prepared to lead Idaho into the future.” We are proud to stand with our colleagues in the mining industry and ask lawmakers to raise the standard on financial assurance.

Here are three ways House Bill 141 protects Idaho lands and Idaho taxpayers:

The bill requires mining companies to calculate the actual costs for environmental reclamation, rather than using the current arbitrary, and potentially insufficient, $15,000 flat fee per acre. This ensures the right amount of money is set aside for proper reclamation.

The bill would require companies to calculate for the potential post-closure costs of long-term water treatment if needed at a site.

Under the bill, every five years, mining companies would need to have their bond amount and financial security of the financial assurance reviewed to ensure the amount is still accurate and robust enough to cover reclamation costs. This would continue until reclamation is certified as finalized.

House Bill 141 demands companies set aside what could be tens or hundreds of millions of dollars before mining begins. In order to do this companies may need access to multiple tools to achieve the required amount. But at the end of the day, a company can only use the financial assurance tools the Idaho Land Board deems appropriate for their specific project. Ultimately, Idaho is in control of what would be an acceptable form of financial assurance that a company uses to meet its obligations imposed by the state.  The Land Board has been using this approach with other projects for many years.

Without House Bill 141 a mining company could end up putting a mere fraction of what we are voluntarily asking for in this bill. By passing this legislation, we feel confident we will create a brighter future for Idahoans and for our industry.

We want to thank the Idaho Mining Association and the bi-partisan group of legislators moving this much needed bill forward. We will keep you posted as the legislation makes its way through the Senate.

Click here to see the Star News’ coverage of House Bill 141.