A Closer Look at the Economics of the Stibnite Gold Project 

A Closer Look at the Economics of the Stibnite Gold Project 

The Stibnite Gold Project is more than a $1.3 billion investment in Idaho. We designed the Project to produce critical resources, bring well-paying jobs to Idaho, fund environmental restoration of an abandoned mine site and be a responsible partner with the region. We are committed to Idaho families and businesses, so we’ve carefully studied the impacts of our project, mitigated risk, designed for net benefits, and have already spent upwards of $88 million in Idaho by prioritizing local partnerships1.  

In addition to investing upwards of $100 million in repairing the damage that was left behind from mining decades ago, the Project will provide an estimated $298 million in direct sales transactions in Idaho every year, and directly employ 500-600 employees with an average annual payroll of $42 million during operations2,3. These are full-time, year-round jobs that pay more than twice as much on average as the per capita income of $30,000 in Valley County 

These expectations are built on multiple financial studies and third-party economic analysis echoed by the performance of mining in Idaho today. Mining and natural resource development have been staples of Idaho’s economy for generations. In fact, the Idaho Mining Association reports that $343 million goes to Idahoans annually in direct wages from mining and the average salary package for mining related jobs is $105,000. 

Idaho Headwaters Economic Study Group 

Despite all of the work that has gone into evaluating the economics of our project, a small group of local project opponents funded and conducted a study of their own.  

While we admire people who ask tough questions and seek out the information they need, the work sponsored by the Idaho Headwaters Economics Study Group (IHESG) does not present a wholistic or likely set of outcomes. IHESG claims to be unbiased, but a close review shows many key facts were ignored and extremes were analyzed to draw conclusions intended to sensationalize our project. 

Bottom line, the argument that Idahoans will not benefit from our project and the $1.3 billion investment it will bring to our state is neither based in facts nor reason. Here is a breakdown of some of our team’s analysis of the document IHESG produced.  

Concern 1: IHESG failed to consider the required mitigations and details of the Stibnite Gold Project and instead relied on data from unrelated mining projects.  

Yes, the Stibnite Gold Project will have impacts on public services. But IHESG leaves out that Perpetua is required to enter into an impact agreement with Valley County to ensure we are mitigating our potential impact on local services. IHESG failed to consider this and instead took the incorrect stance that our impacts would be unmitigated. 

In addition to what is required of Perpetua, our team has proactively been working with the local emergency services, healthcare providers, and school districts to help plan for and mitigate potential increases in demand for public services. We also founded the Stibnite Advisory Council and Stibnite Foundation, so community members could have a seat at the table to help us identify and fund projects to benefit the region. Perpetua Resources has already given $300,000 to the foundation and during operations will provide a minimum of $500,000 per year during operations or 1% of the total income.  

Additionally, here are examples of how Perpetua has implemented direct community benefits: 

  • In 2021 Perpetua spent $9.9 million in Idaho, awarded $12,000 in scholarships to local students, provided $38,000 in STEM and education support, and donated $50,000 to local community groups, including $15,000 to support affordable housing readiness.  
  • In 2021, 46% of our employees were based in Valley County with more than 80% in Idaho. 
  • Perpetua has awarded $50,000 in scholarships since 2015 and $2.6 million in community giving since 2014. 
  • Perpetua has engaged in a road maintenance agreement with Valley County for numerous years, investing hundreds of thousands of dollars in road maintenance work. 


At no point were any of these actions taken into consideration by IHESG. 

Part of the flaw with the publication is that IHESG drew conclusions from other projects with very different locations and contexts and not our specific proposal.  

For example, IHESG documented a concern that calls to law enforcement may rise by using an example from North Dakota, where county populations doubled or tripled when oil exploration began. Growth related to our project is not expected to get anywhere near those numbers. In fact, the SDEIS predicts a maximum population growth in Adams and Valley counties of 3% associated with the Stibnite Gold Project. Despite the smaller increase, we are already having conversations with law enforcement, school boards and the fire district to talk about how we can help mitigate any impacts from the Stibnite Gold Project.  

Concern 2: IHESG misapplies data when discussing demands on public services.  

IHESG tried to make the claim that commercial property taxes paid by Perpetua Resources will be insufficient to cover the increased burden on local services. But this ignores three key facts. First, as stated above, we will enter into an impact agreement with the county to assist with local services where we have a direct impact. Secondly, local property tax income is sourced from both residential and commercial properties. Finally, Valley County receives significant revenues from state and federal sources.  

Commercial properties are not taxed at a rate designed to cover the total community service expenses incurred by their employees. The McCall Donnelly School Board’s budget for 2022 to 2023 shows that local revenues account for only 30% of total revenues with the balance in state and federal funds. Commercial property taxes for all businesses would need to be substantially higher if businesses were expected to cover the full cost of public services, such as schools and local law enforcement, provided to their employees. 

Concern 3: IHESG overestimates recreational impacts and minimizes impacts from the Stibnite Gold Project.  

IHESG estimates the total value to the local economy from the visitor – recreation sector plus non-labor income is $447M, and therefore claim that mine salaries will only equate to a small percentage of that provided by recreation (2.5%). 

The problem with this logic is that it greatly overestimates the size of the recreation economy. Based on a 2018 study by the Idaho Department of Commerce, tourism and travel related employment and earnings are estimated at $34M in Valley County, not anywhere close to the $447M cited by IHESG. Compared to tourism spending, the payroll from the Stibnite mine would be a significant portion of the local payroll, not a measly 2.5%.  

Their estimate of $447M includes hospitality, service industry, restaurants, and other tourism dependent sectors, but also mixes in non-labor income; things like retirement savings and investments as well as rents paid to second homeowners from vacation rental properties, and also includes all construction related work occurring in the area.  

Let’s also not forget that supporting families with stronger incomes provides increased opportunities to spend on recreational opportunities in their own backyard. 

Concern 4: IHESG ignores analysis provided in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) and the Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement (SDEIS).  

IHESG asserts that the economic impacts of the mine have been overstated. But this is not true.  

IHESG asserts that the U.S. Forest Service’s economic impact modeling wrongfully assumed mining supplies would be purchased locally and thus inflates the economic effects of the project. This is not true. The U.S. Forest Service assumed 0% of Perpetua’s mining equipment would be purchased locally and only 16% of other goods would come locally.  

While specialty mine equipment may be purchased elsewhere, we’ve already prioritized hiring and sourcing locally. Today, we purchase fuel from Diamond Fuel and Feed in Cascade. We utilize local companies like Granite Construction and OK Gravel to support our road maintenance and work at Stibnite. We prioritize Miners Grab n Go, the Corner Restaurant, Cascade Auto and Rocky Mountain Signs to keep our team fed and supplied. Will we buy all our mining supplies locally? No. But have we already prioritized local businesses and plan to continue in the future? Absolutely.  

Concern 5: IHESG makes extreme assumptions not based in fact.  

IHESG egregiously claims no future employees will live locally and do so without providing any data or information to back up the claim. This is just one example where the group takes on an extreme position to confirm a clear bias and completely ignores publicly available data specific to the Stibnite Gold Project.  

Best-available economic data utilized by the U.S. Forest Service estimates that about one-third of mine employees will come from people who already live in the local communities and another third may move to the region.  This is validated by the multiple-year workforce study conducted in partnership with the Stibnite Advisory Council which polls potential workforce candidates. Feedback from our potential workforce confirms that about one-third of our workforce will likely come from people currently living in the region. IHESG also ignores reality today, where over 80% of our employees are based right here in Idaho, and nearly 1/3 of the Perpetua team lives in Valley County.  

IHESG correctly points out that affordable housing in Valley County is an existing concern. One tangible way to help counter the existing challenge is to provide more well-paying jobs in the county which has an annual per capita income of roughly $30,000. The $42 million in annual payroll from the mine can go far to help boost average income and make housing more accessible to families.  

Confusingly, IHESG points to affordable housing as the reason the workforce will not live in the region, but concludes that employees would instead live in Boise – where housing costs are actually much higher if you compare median rents. This logic does not make sense.  

If you’d like to learn more about the economics of the proposed Stibnite Gold Project, we invite you to join us at one of our upcoming office hours 

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