The Canadian mining company, American CuMo, proposes to construct over 10 miles of new roads and clear 137 drill pads in the Boise River headwaters near Grimes Creek. The company hopes that the 2,885-acre exploration project will lead to development of one of the largest open-pit molybdenum mines in the world.
Both exploration and mine development for the CuMo project are extremely controversial. The exploration site is upstream of half of Idaho’s population, and the Boise River watershed provides more than 20 percent of Boise’s drinking water supply. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, mining is the number one toxic polluter in the United States. This endeavor places the Boise River watershed at unacceptable risk.
The proposal of any new mining project can take years of exploration and assessment with the U.S. Forest Service. At ICL, we have been working on the CuMo project for some time, in fact, the U.S. District Court has put the exploration project on hold twice because the Forest Service failed to adequately assess the project’s impacts on groundwater and rare plants following the Pioneer Fire. We will continue to fight this proposal, and need our members and supporters to join us.
A very recent disaster of a tailings dam collapse from a modern, state-of-the-art mine in Brazil gives us pause and raises concerns about mine development upstream of communities.
Our Concerns With the Project
We need to ensure that the Boise River watershed-the source of many Idahoans’ drinking water-is protected. The changed conditions following two recent fires demand an even more cautious approach by the Forest Service.
In 2014, the Grimes Fire burned through part of the area, followed by the Pioneer Fire in 2016, together making the area more sensitive to exploration activities. We want the Forest Service to reevaluate the project’s impacts on the following issues:
Dust, noise and traffic-Since the project was originally proposed years ago, concerns about dust, noise and traffic in the area have grown. The Forest Service needs to take a closer look at how surrounding communities and recreationists will be affected by increased dust, noise and traffic.
Plants and wildlife-The fires shifted the plant communities and wildlife use of the area, but the mining company plans on constructing over 10 miles of roads and 137 drill pads in the same locations. The Forest Service needs to see what changes are needed to reduce potential harm to plants and wildlife from the exploration project.
Access and recreation-Many roads and areas are closed due to the Pioneer Fire and subsequent salvage efforts. The Forest Service needs to assess what additional road and area closures will be needed for exploration activities and how long the closures will need to last.
Water quality-Creeks, springs and seeps often have an increase in water flows after a fire. The Forest Service needs to map these water sources to make sure that drilling activities don’t contaminate water sources.