Stibnite Mine Air Quality Permit

Stibnite Mine Air Quality Permit

Current Status:

Date Filed:
Jul 22, 2022

Case Title:
Nez Perce Tribe, Idaho Conservation League, and Save the South Fork Salmon v. Idaho Department of Environmental Quality

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


Nez Perce Tribe

Idaho Conservation League

To Protect:

Air Quality

Aboriginal Homelands




Case Information:

June 9, 2023 — Advocates for the West filed a brief in response to the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality’s cross-motion for summary judgment and intervenor Perpetua Resources’ motion for summary judgment, along with standing declarations.

April 14, 2023 — Advocates for the West filed our motion for summary judgment and supporting brief in this case. When the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality issued the air quality permit to Perpetua Resources, the agency failed to account for a large portion of the project’s course particulate matter and arsenic emissions, and underestimated the degree to which they will degrade ambient air quality and threaten public health and the environment.

July 22, 2022 — Advocates for the West appealed an air quality permit issued by the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to Perpetua Resources Idaho, Inc. for its proposed Stibnite Gold Project. We represent the Nez Perce Tribe and Idaho Conservation League in this appeal, which was filed together with Save the South Fork Salmon. Over the prior two years, the groups raised repeated concerns during the permitting process about particulate and arsenic pollution that would result from the project. Still, Idaho DEQ failed to address these concerns when it issued the Permit to Construct in June 2022.

The Stibnite Gold Project is a massive gold mine proposed in the headwaters of the East Fork of the South Fork Salmon River adjacent to the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness Area. The area within and surrounding the proposed mine is part of the aboriginal homelands of the Nez Perce Tribe who have reserved the right to fish, hunt, gather, and pasture at traditional places in their 1855 Treaty with the United States.

The proposed mining activities would result in large quantities of dust or particulate matter being emitted into the air, which can cause serious health problems including premature death, heart attacks, aggravated asthma, and other respiratory issues. The rocks, soils, and dust at Stibnite are also known to be very high in arsenic, a human carcinogen known to cause developmental effects, diabetes, pulmonary disease, and cardiovascular disease.

Controlling dust from mining operations is critical to protect public health, but the permit fails to include basic monitoring and other safeguards to ensure dust levels are kept to safe levels.