Massive Exploration Mine Project Seeking Approval in Boise County

Getty image of open pit mine

Getty image of open pit mine

Deadline: January 8 for Comments to Forest Service on CuMoCo's ExPloration Mine Project

Canadian-based mining company American CuMoCo Mining Corporation (CuMoCo) is proposing a large, open pit molybdenum mine site – which CuMoCo claims would be the largest in the world—on our public lands, pursuant to an old, 1872 mining law. The site is directly upstream from half of Idaho's population and located at the headwaters of the Boise River, which provides more than 20 percent of the city of Boise's drinking water.

The project has been stalled in federal court twice by Advocates for the West, an Idaho-based nonprofit environmental law firm.  Most recently, Advocates for the West filed an action against the U.S. Forest Service and, in July 2016, obtained a federal court victory halting further progress because the Forest Service approved the CuMoCo Exploration Project without taking sufficient steps to protect the water quality and rare flower habitat [Sacajawea’s bitterroot] located within the Project Area. CuMoCo continues to move forward to gain approval for its proposed exploration drilling project. The Forest Service is now conducting their third environmental analysis and accepting public comments until January 8, 2018.

CuMoCo reports that it has discovered one of the largest deposits of molybdenum, copper and silver near Boise, Idaho. Molybdenum is used to strengthen and extend the longevity of steel -- primarily used in infrastructure, such as bridges and buildings. On its website CuMoCo reports: "The Company is advancing its CuMo Project towards feasibility and its goal is to establish itself as one of the world's largest and lowest-cost primary producers of molybdenum."  They say there are significant credits of silver and copper, enough to place it among the top 25 silver deposits on the planet.  

This continues to be viewed as a very controversial project in terms of its potential to impact ground and surface water, particularly if the mine were to move past exploration and into full production. Exploration activities include drilling and are not without significant impact. Environmental risks of open pit mining include:  water contamination, damage to rare plants and wildlife, forest clearing, increased radioactive and metallic dust created when minerals are crushed and associated with health and lung issues, noise and traffic that will be created by over 10 miles of new roads, decreased recreation access, and the clearing of 137 drill pads in the Boise River headwaters near Grimes Creek.  

Idaho Business for the Outdoors (IBO) represents a collective, nonpartisan business voice in support of the advantage Idaho's outdoors and public lands afford to our state and economy. IBO remains concerned by the potential impact this exploratory work may have on the area and, ultimately, the decrease in land value associated with an open pit mine on Idaho’s public lands to its present and future economy.  IBO considers the long-term risks this type of project poses to our economy, public lands, public health, and recreationists as worthy of public and IBO member attention.  

IBO recognizes the CuMoCo project may create jobs, contribute money in the form of taxes, fees and other payments to the local, state, and federal governments, but believes the short and long-term risks and costs of potential damages remain too significant to ever mitigate. The risks of this project leave Idaho businesses, employees, and families vulnerable and too exposed should a mining disaster occur.  We urge individuals and our business and community leaders to submit comments to the Forest Service by the January 8 deadline, expressing their concern about this project and the risks it poses to our water, wildlife, air, quality of life, outdoors and our Idaho economy.

Comments can be sent to the Forest Service:  
comments-intermtn-boise@fs.fed.us with "2018 CuMo Exploration Project" in the subject line.   
Or mail directly to Melissa Yenko, Forest Environmental Coordinator, Boise National Forest, 1249 South Vinnell Way, Suite 200, Boise, Idaho 83709; Fax:  (208) 373-4111

Heather Parkinson Dermott