Mining Company Drops Cyanide Plans
Desert Mineral Mining has decided to use an alternative process for leaching gold from ore so it won't be needing the cyanide mining permit it got in August.
The mine, if opened in 2006 as planned, would be the first new gold mine to open in the Boise River watershed in 20 years or more. Desert Mineral Mining wants to begin processing ore cast off by past miners on Three Point Mountain, 20 miles southeast of Boise on Blacks Creek Road.
The California-based company will use sodium bromide, which its owners say has few long-term environment effects, instead of cyanide to extract gold from ore.
The process also can be used to reclaim and remediate past mining damage, said Dan Terzo, COO of Desert Mineral Mining.
"Our sister company's past testing proves that we can restore heavy metal contaminated waste piles to a safe organic state," Terzo said.
Neighboring ranchers and environmental activists had opposed the mine because of concerns over the use of cyanide to leach the gold from the rock. The sudden shift pleased John Robison of the Idaho Conservation League.
"The fact they found an alternative to cyanide is good news," Robison said. "We certainly appreciate Mr. Terzo being flexible to technology with less impact on the environment."
The new process is more costly than cyanide leaching, but the mine will not require a tailings pond. Terzo will have to return to the Idaho Department of Lands with a new reclamation plan before proceeding.
Terzo initially planned to mine 120,000 tons of ore but scaled back for the cyanide permit. He hopes to build a pilot plant at the mine site that will test not only the mining process, but also the ability to clean up past mining.
Terzo envisions expanding the technology to clean up industrial waste and restore soil exhausted by poor farming practices.
Desert Mineral's proposal came as Treasure Valley residents, including Boise Mayor Dave Bieter, expressed concerns about the threat of mining to the Boise River's water quality.
Source: Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News