Nasdaq-listed Perpetua Resources held a groundbreaking ceremony on Tuesday to mark the start of the first cleanup and water quality improvement activities in Idaho’s historic Stibnite mining district.
The ceremony brought together community members, government officials and local business leaders.
After 100 years of mining activity in the region, millions of tons of unstressed tailings and mining waste have been left behind by previous operators, degrading water quality in the region.
The groundbreaking ceremony marked the beginning of a multi-million dollar, multi-year investment to improve environmental conditions at Stibnite.
Mining at Stibnite began in 1899, after which the area gained national significance during World War II when the US government commissioned the production of antimony and tungsten at the site to aid in the war effort . Stibnite produced the majority of the two minerals used by the United States in the war from 1939 to 1945, with the US Munitions Board crediting the mine with shortening World War II by a year and saving a million American lives.
Most of the mining activity that has taken place at Stibnite took place before modern environmental protections and regulations were established. As a result, the site was never fully rehabilitated.
At least 10.5 million tonnes of unlined tailings and waste are releasing arsenic and antimony into ground and surface waters. Also, the East Fork of the South Fork of the Salmon River empties into an abandoned mining pit and habitat conditions are degraded.
“We didn’t cause the contamination that degraded water quality in the historic Stibnite mining district for decades, but we are part of the solution,” Perpetua’s CEO said. Laurel Sayer said.
Perpetua proposed a redevelopment plan to mine the site for gold and antimony, an essential mineral, while restoring the environment.
The first four-year phase of the project includes the removal of 325,000 t of legacy waste and tailings from the river and the diversion of streams to keep the water clean.
While the Stibnite gold project is currently undergoing regulatory review, the first clean-up actions will now begin. Perpetua, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the U.S. Forest Service have worked together to develop a detailed scope of work for Phase 1 cleanup activities since signing the agreement last year.
“Idaho’s natural resources can contribute to a steady national supply of the materials we need to drive our economy forward. At the same time, cleanup projects…are a critical part of the future of the responsible mining in Idaho,” the Idaho governor said. brad little said.
Construction company IMCO Construction has been selected to oversee the water quality improvements in June, July and August. These improvements include the lining, upgrading and re-routing of watercourse channels on the site to prevent clean water from interacting with the old waste dumps on the site, as well as the removal of the waste rock dump inherited from the Defense Minerals Exploration Administration from the interior and along a tributary to the East Fork of the South Fork of the Salmon River and restoration of the original course of the stream.
“I was delighted to see the EPA and USDA [US Department of Agriculture] sign an agreement granting Perpetua Resources permission to voluntarily clean up key areas near the historic Stibnite mine site. These urgent actions are long overdue and will focus on the most immediate needs to improve water quality,” the Idaho congressman said. mike simpson said.
Perpetua worked with the EPA and USDA for over three years to receive approval to conduct the cleanup activities. After consulting with other interested parties — such as the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality — Perpetua, the EPA, and the USDA signed an Administrative Settlement Agreement and Consent Order last year. , which paved the way for Perpetua to address legacy issues in key areas of the Stibnite. district.
“Water is one of Idaho’s most precious resources. . . By improving water quality in the historic Stibnite Mining District through voluntary clean-up activities, Perpetua is leading the way to collaborative mining in the future,” the Idaho congressman said. Russ Fulcher said.