NEWS: Judge Considers Letting Midas Gold Address Previous Water Contamination in Stibnite Mining District & Pausing Litigation

NEWS: Judge Considers Letting Midas Gold Address Previous Water Contamination in Stibnite Mining District & Pausing Litigation

Published on December 17, 2019


The Nez Perce Tribe’s lawsuit against Midas Gold may be put on hold after arguments in front of U.S. District Judge Lynn B. Winmill on Monday to stay the case. The judge is taking a motion to stay under advisement and will make a final decision shortly.

“For more than a year, we have worked closely with regulators and stakeholders to address the causes of water contamination in the historic Stibnite Mining District,” said Midas Gold Idaho CEO, Laurel Sayer. “We hope Judge Winmill will grant a stay in this case after hearing our arguments, so the work to help the site can continue. A lawsuit will not change the problem. Work on the ground is the only real opportunity to see restoration at Stibnite.”

Earlier this year, the Nez Perce Tribe filed a lawsuit against Midas Gold claiming the company is violating the Clean Water Act, despite the fact the company has never operated at the site and the water quality issues that exist today were created by historical mining activity that dates back over 80 years. Midas Gold’s actions have been limited to studying current conditions in the mining district.

For more than a year, Midas Gold has routinely been meeting with environmental regulators on the issue of the site’s water quality. More recently, the company began working closely with the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality and the Environmental Protection Agency to gain permission to take action to learn more about the causes of degraded water quality. Under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA), Midas Gold is not legally responsible for legacy impacts at site caused by previous mining companies. However, the Stibnite Gold Project is designed to address the problems facing site – including reconnecting fish to their native spawning grounds, fixing the largest source of sedimentation in the river and removing tailings and waste that degrade water quality. With the levels of arsenic and antimony being detected at elevated levels, Midas Gold felt it was important to work directly with regulators now to begin addressing the causes of water contamination.

The Stibnite Mining District is a highly mineralized area and there are over 10.5 million tons of tailings from the World War II era laying unconstrained at the site. Under these conditions, it is not unexpected to see high levels of metals in ground and surface water. It is likely elevated levels of arsenic and antimony have been a problem for decades and, unless action is taken, will continue to be a problem facing the mining district.

Midas Gold has been evaluating the region as a potential opportunity for development since 2009 and in 2016 presented the Plan of Restoration and Operations to the USFS. The project was designed to bring economic investment and environmental restoration to a mining district. Currently, Midas Gold has offered the only viable solution to address water quality issues at the site.

If a motion to stay the case is granted, Midas Gold can focus its efforts on finding meaningful solutions to the sources of contamination that have been present in the Stibnite Mining District for decades, instead of spending time on an unnecessary lawsuit.

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