BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A plan for three open-pit gold mines in salmon habitat in east-central Idaho is one step closer to approval after the U.S. government selected the Canadian developer’s proposed plan for mitigating the project’s environmental impact.
The U.S. Forest Service on Friday made public the environmental study for British Columbia-based Perpetua Resources’ Stibnite Gold Project about 40 miles (64 kilometers) east of McCall and near the southwestern edge of the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness and will now take public comments on it.
The plan involves expanding two existing open-pit gold mines in the historically heavily mined area and building a third, then restoring the site after mining concludes. The company says hundreds of well-paying jobs will be created.
The Forest Service said it selected the plan put forward by the company among several alternatives because it will reduce long-term water treatment requirements and manage stream temperatures.
The Nez Perce Tribe opposes new mining in the area due to its potential impact on salmon habitat. The tribe says the project is within its aboriginal homeland where it has treaty rights.
Perpetua Resources estimates the area contains more than 4 million ounces (115,000 kilograms) of gold, more than 6 million ounces (170,000 kilograms) of silver and about 150 million pounds (70 million kilograms) of antimony, a key metal in making batteries.