LEWISTON, Idaho (AP) — A Clean Water Act lawsuit filed by the Nez Perce Tribe that seeks to force a Canadian gold mining company to acquire permits for pollution discharged from its central Idaho facility will be allowed to continue, a federal judge decided.
Judge B. Lynn Winmill at Boise forwarded the lawsuit first filed by the tribe in August against Midas Gold Corporation and its subsidiary, Midas Gold Idaho, The Lewiston Tribune reports.
“Midas Gold’s motion to stay the Tribe’s litigation was simply a delay tactic,” Nez Perce Tribal Executive Committee chairman Shannon F. Wheeler said. “The Tribe is eager to move forward with its litigation in order to ensure harmful pollution discharges from the site are stopped.”
The company is discharging water polluted with arsenic, cyanide, mercury and other heavy metals into streams of the Salmon River home to several species of fish protected by the Endangered Species Act, Nez Perce Tribal leaders said in the complaint.
The streams also run through traditional territory where tribal members fish, tribe officials said.
Pollution dates back years and no mining operations were conducted since Midas Gold purchased the mine 10 years ago, company officials said.
The company is in the process of acquiring state and federal permits to mine gold at the site while also proposing to remove barriers to fish, fixing sedimentation problems and removing other waste, officials said.
The proposed cleanup is contingent on the company being able to actively mine so some of its profits can be used for remediation, company officials said.
“Above all else, we remain committed to advancing solutions to improve water quality at the site,” Midas Gold Idaho CEO Laurel Sayer said. “We did not cause the problems facing the Stibnite Mining District but we are committed to being part of the solution. In fact, today, we are the only ones with a viable plan to address water quality in the historical mining district.”