Midas Gold announced that the United States Forest Service (“USFS”) and other regulators working on the review of the Stibnite Gold Project (“Project”) under the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”), have released their quarterly Schedule of Proposed Actions (“SOPA”), which updates the NEPA permitting schedule for the Project.  The updated schedule indicates that the USFS expects to release the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (“Draft EIS”) for public review in August 2020. Once the much-anticipated Draft EIS is released, the public will have an opportunity to comment on the Project, as required by NEPA.

“Almost a decade of work has gone into studying, designing and improving the Stibnite Gold Project,” said Laurel Sayer, President & CEO of Midas Gold Idaho, Inc. “The rigors of the permitting process have provided years of additional scientific study and refinement to the Project. Once released, we are confident that the Draft EIS will clearly illustrate the remarkable opportunity we have to use responsible, modern mining as both a path to restore the ecosystem at the Stibnite site, and also provide the family-wage jobs, capital investment and critical minerals our nation so clearly needs.”

The USFS has spent the last several months working to make the Draft EIS complete, comprehensive and more accessible for the public, so stakeholders can more easily review and understand the document.  Midas Gold has worked closely with regulators to provide the technical information needed to ensure the USFS has access to the best available science and develops the best alternative possible for the Stibnite Gold Project.  The USFS brought significant additional technical resources to the review process that have worked diligently to ensure this objective is met. This additional effort should ultimately support a complete and robust record of decision (“ROD”) at the conclusion of the NEPA process. The updated schedule indicates that USFS anticipates releasing a final ROD in Q3 2021.

During this period, Midas Gold has continued to evaluate opportunities to further refine the Project with the objective of reducing Project footprint, improving water quality and developing a sustainable ecosystem supporting healthy fish populations that can access spawning grounds in the headwaters of the East Fork of the South Fork of the Salmon River for the first time in more than 80 years.  This is an iterative process between regulators and Midas Gold designed to ensure the best outcomes for the site.

“The historical mining district where the Project is located is in desperate need of environmental repair,” said Sayer. “Mining operations undertaken by prior operators, particularly in the WWII and Korean War era, left heavy impacts on the site that were largely abandoned once mining concluded and only minimal reclamation undertaken.  Our Project was designed from the outset to use modern, responsible mining to restore the area by providing the expertise and financial resources necessary to reconnect salmon to their native spawning grounds, improve water quality and address numerous legacy issues from historical mining operations. If permitted, the Project would also provide America with its only domestically mined source of antimony and bring more than 50 family-wage jobs to rural Idaho.”

Joint Review Process
Seven federal, state and local agencies involved in permitting the Project signed the Stibnite Joint Review Process Memorandum of Understanding (“MOU”) in 2017, committing to work together to evaluate the Plan of Restoration and Operations (“PRO”) for the Stibnite Gold Project under NEPA. The MOU was designed so agencies could collaborate in the review and preparation of the EIS, meet the requirements of the public process and follow a mutually agreed upon schedule. Agency cooperation and collaboration remain key to the timeliness and completeness of the process.

Next Steps in the Regulatory Process
Once the Draft EIS is released, there will be a minimum 45-day public comment period, as required by NEPA. Immediately following the public comment period, the USFS and cooperating agencies will respond to all comments and produce the final EIS and a draft ROD.  Upon publication of the final EIS, there would be a period for objections and resolution before the final ROD is published. A positive final decision would allow Midas Gold’s subsidiary, Midas Gold Idaho, Inc., to seek the issuance of the final permits that are dependent on the ROD being issued.