Formation Capital Corp.'s commitment to paying for perpetual water treatment after its cobalt mine closes convinced the Idaho Conservation League to work with the mine instead of fight it.
Together, the Canadian mining company and the state's largest environmental group announced Monday a joint project for environmental projects in the Upper Salmon River near where the mine is planned.
Formation said it will pay $150,000 a year for the life of the mine for a series of projects that will be picked by a panel that includes the ICL, the Nez Perce and Shoshone-Bannock tribes and residents of Lemhi and Custer County.
The deal was forged by former Idaho governor and interior secretary Cecil Andrus, a member of the ICL and a board member of Formation Capital
"This is going to raise the bar for mining in Idaho," Johnson said.
Monday was the deadline for appealing the permit, and it was unclear whether any other environmental groups would file an appeal. However, Noranda and three other mining companies that are cleaning up past mining pollution at the adjacent Blackbird Mine have filed an appeal. The companies have paid $70 million to clean up heavy metal pollution from the old cobalt mine that killed off an entire run of salmon and steelhead in Panther Creek, a major tributary to the Salmon River.
The Forest Service cannot distinguish new pollution that would enter the system from Formation Capital's proposed mine and historic pollution, said Bruce Smith, a Boise attorney representing the other mining companies. But if pollution levels in the rivers exceed standards, the four companies are on the hook to pay the cleanup costs.
Read the full story at IdahoStatesman.com.