BOISE COUNTY -- The CuMo Mining Company has already been working for six years, laying the groundwork in Idaho to start explorative mining on the Boise National Forest.
Geologists believe a spot 14 miles northwest of Idaho City could have some of the largest Molybdenum deposits in possibly the world.
The mineral is used to strengthen steel and is found in wind turbines and in cell phones, it is also used to help build skyscrapers.
“The new methodologies of exploration are much more environmentally friendly than they ever have been before,” said Senior Scientist with Forgren Associates Inc. of Boise Phil Bandy, speaking on behalf of CuMo.
Bandy tells us nowadays there are new federal regulations that mining companies must abide by making procedures less environmentally impactful, than they used to be.
He believes it’s a big misconception.
“I think understanding how the exploration is done and how it impacts or doesn’t impact the environment is very important as well,” said Bandy.
Of course, the mining project has been met with opposition.
Local environmental groups have been fighting the proposal with court appearances.
However last year a federal judge said CuMo had everything in order to be granted an Environmental Assessment except it needed more research to be done on groundwater impacts.
The U.S. Forest Service then released its Supplemental Environmental Assessment on August 15 regarding the project, and are currently in the 30-day comment period.
Tuesday, at the Robinson Community Center in Idaho City those with the Boise National Forest held a public open house to give residents the chance to learn more.
“I am just looking for a possible job opportunity I guess,” said Idaho City resident Chris Wilmoth.
He heard about the CuMo Mining Company a few times before in the local media.
“I moved up here for a reason to kind of be in the mountains and keep away from a lot of this kind of stuff,” said Wilmoth.
He also said he commutes to Boise for work and wants a better paying job closer to home.
“Wildlife and the trees and everything are what we kind of live for being an Idaho resident,” he said. “I want to make sure it’s done right, and at the same time I am not afraid of welcoming opportunity.”
The Idaho Conservation League has been vocal about the mine proposal.
“There are some activities that are proposed upstream that are of concern to folks that live downstream,” said John Robison, Public Lands Director for the Idaho Conservation League.
Back in 2012 KTVB took to the skies with Robison above the mine site and he showed us the impact he believes would take place if the CuMo mine becomes a reality.
“That mountain out there at 10 o’clock would basically be no more,” said Robison in July 2012, from the front seat of a small plane.
His group as well as others believes CuMo's open pit mine will negatively impact the Boise River and the drinking water.
“It’s a central part of our life here in the Treasure Valley,” said Liz Paul, Boise River Campaign Coordinator with Idaho Rivers United.
Paul echoes Robison’s concerns and believes folks should put things in perspective when CuMo promises to bring in hundreds of jobs to the area.
She encourages people to get involved, ask questions about the project and get to know the information.
“Be involved,” Paul said. “These decisions sometimes have a tendency to get away from people they just wake up one morning and say why do we have this huge mine up in our watershed.”
According to Bandy, the process slow moving.
“If the company does decide that they want to move forward with the development then that is going to take some time to get there, but ultimately there is the potential for a lot of high paying jobs locally,” said Bandy.
There are more chances to get to know the facts about the CuMo Mining Project.
Another Open House, hosted by the Boise National Forest will take place again in Boise on Wednesday, September 4 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Best Western Vista Inn at the Airport in Boise.
Then again on Thursday, September 5 at the Garden Valley/Crouch Community Hall from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.