CuMo Mine

CuMo Mine

Current Status:
WON

Case Title:
Idaho Conservation League et al v. Boise National Forest

Staff attorney(s):
Bryan Hurlbutt
Laird J. Lucas
Todd Tucci

Client(s):

Idaho Rivers United

Idaho Conservation League

Golden Eagle Audubon Society

To Protect:

Great gray owl
Northern goshawk
Sacajaweas bitteroot

Date won/settled:
August 29, 2012

States:
Idaho

Updates:

CuMo Mine Win!

August 30, 2012

US District Judge Edward J. Lodge ruled that the Forest Service acted arbitrarily and capriciously by approving the CuMo Exploration Project without first examining potential groundwater contamination.

Advocates for the West and the Western Mining Action Project represent Idaho Conservation League, Idaho Rivers United, and Golden Eagle Audubon Society in this lawsuit, which challenges the Forest Service’s approval of Mosquito Gold’s proposal to explore for copper and molybdenum in the headwaters of Grimes Creek near Idaho City.  Mosquito Gold’s proposed exploration is the next step toward constructing what the mining company hopes will be one of the largest open pit molybdenum mines in the world.

Canadian mining company Mosquito Gold had proposed to drill 259 holes from 1,500 to 3,000 feet deep on public land in the headwaters of the Boise River. The Plaintiffs raised concerns that such extensive drilling in an area littered with historic mining waste could cause serious water contamination.  Judge Lodge agreed and cautioned in his opinion: “The very nature of drilling holes 1,500 to 3,000 feet into the ground seems likely to impact the underlying surface including groundwater. . . .  These are significant environmental concerns”.

Because the Forest Service failed to assess such impacts, Judge Lodge vacated and remanded the Forest Service’s approval of Mosquito Gold’s proposal and ordered the Forest Service to assess impacts to groundwater.

Latest on Idaho’s CuMo Mine case

In February, 2012, Advocates for the West filed a reply/response brief on behalf of our clients, arguing that the US Forest Service violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) on three fronts when approving Mosquito Gold’s CuMo Mine exploration;

  • When the US Forest service took a “decide first, study later”approach,
  • The pre-decsion studies and other documents cited by Defendant and Intervenor did not satisfy the “hard look” requirement, and
  • The Forest Service failed to conduct baseline hydrology studies.

Click on CuMo Mine Case page below to read February 2012 Reply/Response Brief.

CuMo Mine Tour Video by Mountain Visions

Gary Grimm of Mountain Visions joined Idaho Conservation Leauge, Golden Eagle Audubon Society, Sierra Club and Advocates for the West on a tour of the proposed CuMo Mine site in southwest Idaho. His video will introduce you to the area.

Read more about our CuMo Mine case.

Questions about the case? Contact Advocates for the West attorney Bryan Hurlbutt.

CuMo Mine Tour Video by Mountain Visions

Advocates Takes Next Step Against CuMo Mine

Today, Advocates for the West submitted the Opening Brief on behalf of Idaho Conservation League, Idaho Rivers United, and Golden Eagle Audubon Society in a challenge to the Forest Service approval of Canadian mining company Mosquito Gold’s plan to explore for copper and molybdenum in the headwaters of Grimes Creek on nearly 3000 acres of Boise National Forest land.

The mountainous project site, located 14 miles north of Idaho City, consists mostly of ponderosa pine and Douglas fir forest and is dissected by many tributaries of Grimes Creek.  The site provides suitable habitat for numerous species of wildlife, including “sensitive species” such as great grey owl, northern goshawk, and wolverine.  The rare flower Sacajawea’s bitterroot—known to exist only in central Idaho’s mountains—inhabits the site.

Despite Mosquito Gold’s ambitious proposal to clear 69 acres of vegetated land, build over 10 miles of new roads and 137 drill pads and mud pits, and operate four drilling rigs 24/7 throughout most of the year to drill 259 exploratory wells up to 3,000 feet deep, the Forest Service made a “finding of no significant impact” and approved the exploration.

The Opening Brief asks the Federal Court for the District of Idaho to halt Mosquito’s exploration and have the Forest Service conduct necessary studies on sensitive species and consider the water quality impacts from drilling adjacent to contaminated historic mining sites.

Groups file challenge of CuMo Mine exploration over watershed concerns

Representing conservation groups, residents and recreationists, Advocates for the West filed a complaint today challenging the Forest Service’s approval of mining exploration at the headwaters of the Boise River for copper molybdenum (CuMo).  Mosquito Gold, a Canadian mining company, is seeking to construct 259 drill holes and over 10 miles of new roads through beautiful country in the mountains northeast of Boise.  The capital city receives 20% of its drinking water from the Boise River, making this project very controversial.

“The mining industry’s track record across the landscape is clear: boom and bust cycles, leaving contaminated water for the public to clean up,” said Pam Conley of the Audubon Society.

According to the EPA, mining is the number one toxic polluter in the US.

Advocates for the West’s Laird Lucas and Roger Flynn of the Western Mining Action Project are working together to respresent the plaintiffs in this case.

Read the complaint below.

Groups unite to stop what could be one of the largest open-pit mines in the world

The Canadian mining company Mosquito Gold is proposing what could be among the largests open-pit mines on earth right on the headwaters of the Boise River – drinking and irrigation water for Idaho’s moist populous area and home to wildlife such as great grey owls and northern goshawks.

“Idaho has enough mining pollution.  We are appealing the project because of the negative impacts to ground and surface water, birds, wildlife, and other resources,” said Pam Conley, President of the Golden Eagle Audubon Society.

Acting on behalf of Sierra Club, Idaho Rivers United, Idaho Conservation League, and the Golden Eagle Audubon Society, Advoactes for the West filed an appeal to the Forest Service, asking them to reconsider the permit that they issued to Mosquito Gold to expand exploration, creating new roads, crossing streams, constructin hundreds and drill pads and drill holes, all on public land.

“Mining is the number one toxic pollutor in the U.S.  We are sending a clear message that Mosquito Gold won’t find it easy to do anything that might put Idaho’s clean water at risk,” said John Robison, Public Lands Director for the Idaho Conservation League.

Case Information:

Advocates for the West represented Idaho Conservation League, Idaho Rivers United, and Golden Eagle Audubon Society in this successful challenge to the Forest Service approval of Canadian mining company Mosquito Gold’s plan to explore for copper and molybdenum in the headwaters of Grimes Creek on nearly 3000 acres of Boise National Forest land.

The mountainous project site, located 14 miles north of Idaho City, consists mostly of ponderosa pine and Douglas fir forest and is dissected by many tributaries of Grimes Creek.  The site provides suitable habitat for numerous species of wildlife, including “sensitive species” such as great grey owl, northern goshawk, and wolverine.  The rare flower Sacajawea’s bitterroot—known to exist only in central Idaho’s mountains—inhabits the site.  The site is in the headwaters of the Boise River.

Despite Mosquito Gold’s ambitious proposal to clear 69 acres of vegetated land, build over 10 miles of new roads and 137 drill pads and mud pits, and operate four drilling rigs 24/7 throughout most of the year to drill 259 exploratory wells up to 3,000 feet deep, the Forest Service made a “finding of no significant impact” and approved the exploration.

In July, 2011, Advocates for the West filed the complaint in federal court in Idaho, initiating this lawsuit and asking the court to halt Mosquito Gold’s exploration and order the Forest Service to conduct necessary studies on the exploration’s impacts to sensitive species and water quality.

On August 29, 2012, US District Court Judge Edward Lodge ruled in our favor, finding that the Forest Service was arbitrary and capricious in approving the exploration without first considering the potential for water contamination caused by drilling numerous deep wells in an area littered with historic mining waste.  Judge Lodge vacated the Forest Service’s approval of the exploration and ordered the Forest Service to assess groundwater impacts before the exploration can proceed.

See Updates below for current news on our CuMo Mine case.