Call to Action!
If you live in the communities considering this deal please consider calling or emailing your mayor, city council or county commission and expressing your concern. The following cities and counties are considering signing.
Midas Gold is advancing its work to make partners out of west central Idaho communities and has offered to create a financial trust in an apparent bid for political support.
On July 26, the McCall City Council hosted a work session to discuss a “partnership agreement” with Midas, the company proposing a huge open-pit mine in the headwaters of the Salmon River.
Following a 20-minute presentation from Midas Gold, more than a dozen McCall citizens took the opportunity to caution their city leaders about striking a deal with the mine. The city council directed City Manager Anette Spickard to gather more feedback from local residents before committing to or changing the nature of the agreement.
According to the city council agenda, Midas is focused on the cities of McCall, Cascade, Council, Donnelly, New Meadows, Riggins and the village of Yellow Pine, as well as Adams, Idaho and Valley counties; and the West Central Mountains Community Partnership—basically every municipality in proposed mine’s direct area of impact.
“We have huge concerns with the idea that Midas Gold is buying influence,” said IRU Executive Director Kevin Lewis. “The company is encouraging Idaho’s cities to sacrifice long-term environmental health and economic stability for the prospect of short-term financial gain. We hope elected leaders will think long and hard about this proposed trade. We don’t think it’s a good deal.”
The draft partnership agreement in circulation indicates that Midas would create a Community Partnership Committee on which each signatory to the agreement would serve. It would also create what it calls the Stibnite Foundation, and each signatory would also have an appointee on the foundation’s board.
“Midas Gold will make an initial grant to the Stibnite Foundation in cash and in shares of Midas Gold Corp.,” according to the draft agreement. “Each year thereafter, as determined by the phase of the project, Midas Gold will contribute to the foundation.”
The agreement cites the following mine development benchmarks as opportunities for disbursement of funds to the foundation. What’s less clear is whether they are also performance benchmarks for the communities and opportunities for Midas to hold funding back.
- Each year during permitting,
- After a positive Record of Decision from the Forest Service,
- After receipt of all necessary permits and approvals,
- When crews break ground,
- Each year during production and
- When final reclamation is complete.
IRU is so far unclear about the extent to which Midas has held public meetings with all of the aforementioned municipalities, but we’re certain a similar discussion has already transpired with the Adams County Commission.
Moreover, the city of McCall has already written a strongly-worded letter of support for Midas Gold. In a July 18 letter to the Payette National Forest, McCall Mayor Jackie Aymon wrote that the city supports mine development at Stibnite.
“The City of McCall believes that the proposed Stibnite Gold Project will have a positive impact to the economy within the City of McCall and Valley County…The city of McCall therefore supports Midas Gold’s Stibnite Gold Project contingent upon its ability to leave environmental quality of the site in a better condition than was found.”
Lewis was skeptical of the mine’s ability to do that.
“Mining has a clear and strong record or wrecking rivers, wrecking communities, poisoning water and killing fish,” he said. “The headwaters of the Salmon River are more precious than gold."
Questions to consider asking any of the cities or counties considering the agreement:
- Giving these communities an additional platform for input is great, but when push comes to shove Midas Gold answers to shareholders. Will Midas include language in the final agreement to guarantee its end of the bargain?
- Aside from money, what does this process provide that the communities of west central Idaho don't already have? Transparent processes and public feedback are required under a suite of federal and state laws, and processes.
- What does the final legal agreement look like? There shouldn’t be any real consideration of this proposal until we know what we’re really committing to.
- Assuming the city wants to move forward, will citizens have an opportunity to weigh in on the final agreement before it’s signed?
- The draft agreement in circulation discusses employment and work force training for local citizens. What are the jobs we’re talking about? How many are there? How many locals are you going to hire, exactly?
- How much money is Midas going to distribute? Asking communities to sign off on a project of this scale and consequence for an undefined amount of money is putting the cart before the horse.
- What are you willing to sacrifice in one place for economic development in another? The Salmon River and South Fork of the Salmon River are money in Idaho’s pocket right now, and that will always be there if we protect it. Once it’s gone, it’s gone for good.