Midas Gold Corp. is aware that the Nez Perce Tribe has followed on from its Notice of Intent to take legal action by filing suit in federal court on fundamentally the same matters as reported in the June 6th, 2019, release.
Midas Gold will dynamically defend the unwarranted and misguided lawsuit over water quality in the Stibnite Mining District associated with historical mining activity dating back more than 80 years or more before the Company obtained any rights to the location.
Midas Gold is not, and has never worked, on-site and is not liable for the current contamination but has proposed the Stibnite Gold Project as a means for offering the much-required cleanup of historical waste currently polluting the area.
The lawsuit disregards the fact that Midas Gold Idaho has been actively operating with regulators to obtain permission to start dealing with water quality issues even before the Project commences.
It is unfortunate that we are now adversaries in ligation instead of partners in restoration. Midas Gold and the Tribe are aligned on our concerns over water quality in the historic mining district and believe something must be done. This is why we’ve been working with the federal and state environmental regulators for well over a year and half on solutions, and for much longer on permitting the permanent solution.
Laurel Sayer, CEO of Midas Gold Idaho
Sayer continued, “And, while we agree the site needs immediate attention to clean up the damage of the past, make no mistake—the problems outlined in this lawsuit were not caused by Midas Gold. We agree there is a problem, but a far better path would be for the Tribe to spend its energy and resources working with us on a solution rather than filing lawsuits. Filing a lawsuit at this stage merely impedes the process of the site getting the attention it deserves.”
Midas Gold has never carried out any mining operations at Stibnite and thus has no control or liability for any pollutant emissions at the site. The Company’s actions have been restricted to exploring present conditions, assessing the optimal solutions for remediation and restoration, and introducing those solutions to the regulators responsible for granting permission to the site.
The quality of water in the historic Stibnite Mining District has been affected by over a century of mining activity, most of which occurred before the emergence of modern environmental regulations.
There are more than three million tons of debris from the World War II era lying unrestrained in the Meadow Creek Valley, covered by an extra seven million tons of spent heap leach ore, as well as several other open pits and waste rock dumps throughout the site. It is not surprising to see increased levels of metals in ground and surface water with these conditions.
Midas Gold designed its Plan of Restoration and Operations, which is presently under review of the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), to enhance water quality and deal with the long-standing environmental problems confronted by the site as part of its proposed Stibnite Gold Project.
The proposed Project would relink fish to their native spawning grounds, renovate the largest source of sedimentation in the river, and eliminate tailings and waste rock that deteriorate water quality.
For nearly 10 years, Midas Gold has been examining the water quality at the site. Water quality sampling performed by the Company as part of its characterization of the site indicated very high arsenic and antimony levels, much above what is regarded as acceptable for drinking water or aquatic life standards.
The Company has presented this and other water quality information on a regular basis to the USFS and state and federal environmental regulators as part of Midas Gold’s continuing commitments under the federal Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA).
Under CERCLA, the Company must implement appropriate care on the site and offer notice to environmental regulators about any discovery of harmful substances and offer complete cooperation, assistance, and access to individuals authorized to act on site in expectations of finding solutions to enhance the current conditions.
Midas Gold has been working closely with the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality and the United States Environmental Protection Agency to obtain permission to take immediate action and understand more about the particular reasons for deteriorated water quality in several sites.
Under CERCLA, Midas Gold is not legally liable for cleanup of site legacy effects caused by former mining companies or directed by government agencies. However, the Company intends to be part of the solution.
Despite Midas Gold’s projected plan to enhance water quality and solve legacy problems caused by others, the Nez Perce Tribe nevertheless decided to go ahead with its lawsuit against Midas Gold.
Midas Gold has associated itself with and tried to work with the Nez Perce Tribe for the past several years. Actually, the Company has lent its helping hand on multiple occasions; however, the Tribe has rejected the most recent proposals by the Company to partner on solutions for the Stibnite District.
Irrespective of its defense of this unproductive lawsuit, the Company will continue to advance with its long-standing work to evaluate and enhance water quality in the place, restore the site, and return the site to environmental standards not observed in many years through responsible, sophisticated mining.