Midas Gold’s Stibnite project set for public review next month

Stibnite gold project in Idaho. Credit: United States Forest Service.

Midas Gold (TSX: MAX) announced Thursday that the draft environmental impact statement (EIS) for its Stibnite gold project in Idaho is set to be released next month for public review.

In their recently published quarterly schedule of proposed actions, the United States Forest Service (USFS) and other regulators working on the review of the Stibnite project under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) have confirmed that the draft EIS is expected for release in August 2020. Once the draft EIS is released, the public will have an opportunity to comment on the project for a minimum of 45 days as required by NEPA.

The Stibnite project is located approximately 92 miles by air and 144 miles by road northeast of Boise, Idaho. According to a 2014 pre-feasibility study, the project is expected to produce 388,000 ounces of gold per year for the first four years and 337,000 ounces annually over its 12-year mine life.

Key investors in the project include Paulson & Co., Franco-Nevada, Teck Resources and Barrick Gold.

If permitted, the project would also provide the US with its only domestically mined source of antimony

The USFS has spent the last several months working to make the draft EIS complete, comprehensive and more accessible for the public so stakeholders can more easily review and understand the document, Midas said.

The company has also worked closely with regulators to provide the technical information needed to ensure the USFS has access to the best available science and develops the best alternative possible for the project. According to Midas, the USFS brought “significant additional technical resources” to the review process that have worked diligently to ensure this objective is met.

“This additional effort should ultimately support a complete and robust record of decision (ROD) at the conclusion of the NEPA process,” the company added. The updated schedule indicates that USFS anticipates releasing a final ROD in the third quarter of 2021.

“Almost a decade of work has gone into studying, designing and improving the Stibnite gold project,” Laurel Sayer, president and CEO of Midas Gold Idaho said. “The rigors of the permitting process have provided years of additional scientific study and refinement to the project.”

“Once released, we are confident that the draft EIS will clearly illustrate the remarkable opportunity we have to use responsible, modern mining as both a path to restore the ecosystem at the Stibnite site, and also provide the family-wage jobs, capital investment and critical minerals our nation so clearly needs,” she added.

During this period, Midas has continued to evaluate opportunities to further refine the project with the objective of reducing footprint, improving water quality, and developing a sustainable ecosystem supporting healthy fish populations that can access spawning grounds in the headwaters of the East Fork of the South Fork of the Salmon River for the first time in more than 80 years.

“The historical mining district where the project is located is in desperate need of environmental repair,” Sayer said.

“Mining operations undertaken by prior operators, particularly in the WWII and Korean War era, left heavy impacts on the site that were largely abandoned once mining concluded and only minimal reclamation undertaken. Our project was designed from the outset to use modern, responsible mining to restore the area by providing the expertise and financial resources necessary to reconnect salmon to their native spawning grounds, improve water quality and address numerous legacy issues from historical mining operations.”

Immediately following the public comment period, the USFS and cooperating agencies will respond to all comments and produce the final EIS and a draft ROD. Upon publication of the final EIS, there would be a period for objections and resolution before the final ROD is published.

A positive final decision would allow Midas to seek the issuance of the final permits that are dependent on the ROD being issued.

If permitted, the project would also provide the US with its only domestically mined source of antimony and bring more than 500 family-wage jobs to rural Idaho, the company said.

Shares of Midas Gold jumped 5.6% as of 1:30 p.m. EDT. The Vancouver-based gold miner has a market capitalization of C$205.1 million.