Elk City is a very remote small town in north central, Idaho. It is 40 miles up the South Fork of the Clearwater River Canyon from Grangeville (no facilities between them). Despite its remote location, the local streams were badly damaged by placer mining years ago.
Mining companies don’t placer mine much any more. They have moved to pit mines and cyanide heap leaching.
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A Canadian mining company is proposing an open-pit cyanide heap leach mine in the headwaters of the South Fork of the Clearwater River. The Buffalo Gulch mine would be on Bureau of Land Management land just west of Elk City.
The Canadian mining company is using a flawed mine plan from the 1980s. Every major open-pit cyanide leach mine in Montana that used this same design ended up contaminating water supplies with cyanide or other toxins.
- This project is a threat to one of Idaho’s most precious resources: clean drinking water.
- The mine would be only a few hundred feet from local drinking water wells and tributaries to the South Fork of the Clearwater River, an important salmon and steelhead stream.
- If cyanide or diesel fuel were to leak into a stream or spill in a truck accident along the river, it could have devastating impacts on clean water and fisheries. The Bureau of Land Management must address transportation of hazardous chemicals.
- The mining company must update its outdated mine plan in response to recent accidents at other mines.
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