Cyanide mining in Idaho is no longer a relic of the past. Just months after a Canadian mining company declared its intentions to mine for gold in remote Atlanta, a Calfornia-based outfit appears close to gaining approval to construct an open pit mine of its own, just over 20 miles outside of Boise. Nearby farmers and landowners are reportedly none too happy.
Desert Mineral Mining of Laguna Beach, Ca. has submitted an application to the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to construct a cyanidation ore-processing mill along Blacks Creek Road, six miles south of Arrowrock Reservoir in Elmore County. The company hopes to process about 100 tons of ore per day, through ore crushers and cyanide leaching ponds, with 20 to 30 employees, for anywhere from two to five years. The application and draft permit are currently open to public comment, and Bruce Schuld, who is handling the application for the DEQ, says that neighbors of the mine have expressed nothing but opposition thus far.
"Ranchers in the Blacks Creek area are very definitely opposed to this project," Schuld says. "Several of them have expressed concerns about cyanide and heavy metals or nitrates getting into the surface ground water. Several are also concerned about cattle and other animals getting into the cyanide at the site and getting killed. And they are also fearful that these guys would come in and operate, go broke and abandon the site." In addition, ranchers have expressed apprehension over the security of the site against both human vandals and wild game, probable increases in traffic along nearby Blacks Creek Road, especially with trucks carrying toxic substances, and potential fights over water rights.
It is unlikely that these concerns will halt construction, which has already begun at the Elmore site despite pending approval. However, anyone wishing to comment on specific concerns they have with the proposed DMM site, its potential environmental risks or flaws, can still view the application and have their input added into it through the DEQ's Web site (www.deq.state.id.us). The deadline for public comment is Monday, January 3, at which time Schuld will respond to each comment in a report and explain how they will or will not be reflected in the final draft of the DMM permit.