What happens upstream threatens the Boise River: Boise's river

Here's a draft of our Sunday editorial about the Mosquito Gold mining project above the Boise River.

Edward Lodge’s timing couldn’t have been better.

On Aug. 30, the federal judge put the brakes on exploratory drilling at a proposed copper and molybdenum mine about 15 miles northeast of Idaho City. The judge ordered the U.S. Forest Service to further analyze whether the drilling would affect groundwater quality.

A week later, Outside magazine released its list of the 10 best river towns in America. Boise made No. 3 on the list.

These two seemingly separate events are as connected as upstream and downstream.

If you care about and enjoy the Boise River — which, as Outside noted, is basically a prerequisite to living in Boise — then you are rightfully concerned about the prospect of open-pit mining above the headwaters of the river drainage. That’s why Lodge’s ruling is so important. That’s why its impact reverberates beyond the proposed mining area pictured on this page.

The proposed mine site, the Grimes Creek drainage, is a historic mining area. Yet Vancouver, B.C.-based Mosquito Consolidated Gold Mines Ltd. says the area still holds an untapped lode of copper and molybdenum. On its website, the company’s prose about its CuMo mine borders on the breathless.

“CuMo is the largest unmined molybdenum project in the world! With the use of molybdenum in nearly every stainless steel product on the market today, the potential for this project is astounding.”

It is expected — albeit unsettling — when a publicly traded mining company becomes flush with paydirt fever. But we should be able to expect a regulatory agency to practice due diligence and make sure a project is environmentally benign.
In that sense, Lodge’s ruling is more a rebuke of the Forest Service than it is one of Mosquito Gold.

“The very nature of drilling holes 1,500 to 3,000 feet into the ground seems likely to impact the underlying surface, including the groundwater. The appropriate course would be for the Forest Service to have conducted some baseline study and analysis of the groundwater in the area.”

All the more troubling is the fact that this phase — drilling 259 holes at the site — is merely a preliminary step to map the mineral deposits. On this early stage of the project, the Forest Service failed to do its homework.

To make matters even worse, the agency failed on a sensitive project directly upstream from Idaho’s largest city, and upstream of an urban river ecosystem and recreational area that few other cities can match.

To love the Boise River is to feel protective of the river. That love of the river brings us together — the newcomers who fall in love with Boise’s on-your-doorstep outdoor recreation, and the longtimers who can remember the community’s heroic efforts, decades ago, to convert the area from garbage dump to Greenbelt.

Were something to go wrong at the Mosquito Gold mine, the contamination could spoil one of Boise’s best features.

And one of Boise’s best-loved features, as the Outside magazine article illustrates.

The river city rankings weren’t entirely scientific. First, the editors collaborated with American Rivers, a conservation group, to winnow a list of 50 cities to a top 10 — based, says Outside, “on criteria such as cost of living, cultural vibrancy, job prospects, environmental stewardship, and access to the outdoors.” Then, the Top 10 was put to a vote, and Boise finished No. 3.

Perhaps, Boiseans stuffed the ballot box a bit. So what? That only underscores the larger point.

The Boise River is invaluable and irreplaceable.

It is not subject to compromise.

It is not for sale.

When Mosquito Gold touts the economic impact of extracting minerals above the Boise River’s headwaters, a $16 billion operation that can support 1,000 high-paying jobs, we’re left with a very simple question.
At what cost?

For all the economic stakes — for the Valley, and for Mosquito Gold — the environmental stakes are higher. They take precedent. Through that prism, Mosquito Gold will and must be judged as a prospective corporate neighbor.

After Lodge’s ruling, Mosquito Gold issued a news release downplaying the effects on the project — a sentiment summed up a few days earlier by company President and CEO Brian McClay. “This is a bump in the road,” he told the Statesman’s Rocky Barker.

Bump in the road?

No way.

Not if you’re contemplating an open-pit mine above the Boise River.

Above Boise’s river.

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Mosquito Mining

While the judge's decision to force Forest Services to take better precautions against potential water damage is a victory for residents, I find your tone regarding Mosquito Mining confusing. You seem to paint them as villains by (among other statements) summing up McClay's words and sentiment regarding the judgment as "a bump in the road" out of context. His sentiment reflects decades of mining experience and confidence that the drilling they're doing (and precautions they've taken) will NOT affect groundwater AND that any further testing required by the Forest Services will only further prove that they are not impacting the environment. As an investor I've followed this company for years and I have never seen another mining company more focused on protecting the environment and taking every precaution possible. Nobody is more interested in protecting the Boise River than Mosquito. It's absolutely in their best interest to do so.

Michigan man

Michigan man posts on the Stockhouse V.MSQ (Mosquito) forum under the user name tfife. He posts only on the V.MSQ forum and every one of his 251 posts is a part of a continuous peaen of praise for Brian McClay and the board of directors elected in December, 2011. He is regarded by many on Stockhouse as a shill for MSQ.

The Supreme Court of British Columbia set aside the results of MSQ's December, 2011, vote for directors and reinstated the two directors who were left off the slate. Three new directors, elected at the 2011 shareholder meeting, resigned just prior to the Court's decision being released.The Court has ordered that another special shareholder meeting and vote is to be held within 60 days of August 9, 2012.

As to "I have never seen another mining company more focused on protecting the environment and taking every precaution possible", Michigan man would be hard put to name even one mine brought into production by Brian McClay.

Jay Gould

And "jaygould" also posts on Stockhouse under the name "Halcrow". Every one of his posts for the past year+ has been spent attacking current management (most notably Brian McClay) and in turn attacking me because I refute his libelous accusations. Hence, his post here is less about this blog and more (yet again) a chance to slur McClay and praise the dissidents trying to take over the company. Way to stay focused on the topic of this blog.

Sorry MichiganMan,

But as a born and raised 60+ year resident of the Boise Valley, I stand firmly behind Judge Lodge's decision. I'm no tree-hugger, but many of us fought long and hard to clean the river up starting in the 50's when raw sewage was still being dumped in it. Idaho residents have always been a trusting bunch, but we've been lied to so many times by so many various businesses promising that "there will be little, if any, detrimentantal impact" that many of us have become jaded. I understand your interest and partiality as an investor, however I believe the previous experiences of Idaho residents and the knowledge of a Federal Judge that's been in this area his whole life, should rule...Sunny...

Thanks, jaygould.

Thanks much for the info/insight. For some reason, I'm not the least bit surprised...Sunny...

superfund site in the makiing

We already superfunds sites in N Idaho, on the Yanke Fork, maybe more developing in Eastern Idaho from phosphate mining, are the jobs really worth it? Does Grimes Creek and Mores Creek have bull trout? I sure hope so.

Dear Jay Fool ..

Umm, yes Jay. The reason you know who I am is because I OPENLY STATED it on Stockhouse. You're a genius. And I would ask anyone to please feel free to read my 250+ posts because I NEVER praise McClay. I only argue against the few outspoken dissidents on there who launch constant verbal attacks and make false accusations in their attempt to take over the company (literally). That's not praising management by any means.
And to Sunny ... I too stand behind the judge's decision. As I said, it's certainly in Mosquito's best interest and therefore in my best interest as an investor. But the persron who wrote this blog is not being unbiased. They have made no mention that it is absolutely possible to open-pit mine without affecting the water and instead attempt to portray management as villains trying to take shortcuts by taking a snippet of a quote of context (by the not so savvy political speaker McClay.) It is not a true representation of the lengths to which this company is commited to going to protect the water. Yes, the judge's decision is welcomed and will absolutely be addressed I'm sure.

Question for you MichiganMan,

Out of curiosity,
where do you live? Down stream from the affected area, or out of state? And I would like to add that I've seen open pit mining, and I've seen forest clear cutting. Both are, imho, raping the land for profit of private enterprise. However, as you stated, the person that wrote this blog is, in fact, not being unbiased. But he seldom is unbiased, and most times I vehemently disagree with him. But this time he hit the nail on the head big time, and for that I give him the credit that he is obviously due...Sunny...

My Reply ...

No, I certainly do not live down stream. I actually do live in Michigan. But I can definitely appreciate the serious concerns of anyone who does live down stream or has ANY interest in maintaining the beauty (and safety) of the Boise river. Hence, I really do welcome the judge's decision since it does appear more could be done to further ensure (and alleviate people's concerns) that there will be ZERO negative impact from any drilling. Like any company in the world, yes, Mosquito hopes to make a profit. But this company has always emphasized their commitment to protecting the environment and has willingly spent significant amounts of money to ensure minimal impact to wildlife and other environmental elements (such as the Boise River.) Clearly they will not be proceeding until they can satisfy everyone's concerns in this matter.

"ZERO negative impact from

"ZERO negative impact from any drilling"

I believe the concern is not only for drilling, but open pit mining that would follow. Idaho has too much history with mining and the ensuing environmental disasters to believe any sweet talk from mining company executives or their investors, dangling the prospect of jobs. Surely there must be a corporation putting your local resources at risk that you could invest in.

Owyhee County

This comment is off subject of the Boise river project...
Earth Resources invaded the Owyhee Mountains with there great extraction process for silver and gold. The locals were excited about good paying jobs. This same process has played out with several more companies, passing through. Currently the back side of Florida Mountain is a mess as well as much of the surrounding area. Reclamation has been nearly non-existant.
The "Good Paying" jobs are gone as well as the followers who took them. The mess is left with the locals. The usual story with Idaho mining.
It's all about "Free markets"!

RELIEF

I was at Lucky Peak today and peed in it all day long.

That's upstream fyi.