Canadian mine owners, Idaho environmental group cut deal

The Idaho Conservation League (ICL) has struck a deal with Canadian mine company Formation Capital Corp.’s plans to mine cobalt near Salmon, Idaho.

Canadian mine owners, Idaho environmental group cut deal – Rocky Barker – Idaho Statesman

The adjacent Blackbird mine superfund site has been polluting waters for a long time highlighting the potential of the new project to do significant damage to the waters of Panther Creek drainage.  It appears that the Canadian mine leasing American public land knows how to play politics under this shadow quite well – the Canadian mining company recruited former Idaho Governor Cecil Andrus, who now sits on their Board of Directors – a political umbilical cord with some greens in Idaho.

ICL has relinquished legal leverage to contest the Forest Service’s Record of Decision regarding the mine and expects to highlight “environmentally friendly” aspects of the company’s endeavor in the media in exchange for mitigation projects elsewhere and for the company posting already legally required bonds.

Formation Capital is pleased to join with the Idaho Conservation League in announcing the creation of the Conservation Action Program to implement projects to further enhance and improve natural resource, environmental and wildlife resources and values in the Upper Salmon River watershed.

Says the CEO of the company.






  1. Alan Avatar

    The signing of Andrus to sit on the company’s board is proof — again — of the power of money and cheap publicity.

  2. kt Avatar

    This is vivid example of what is wrong with Idaho. Andrus lost all credibility with his single-minded bullheadedness over the Bombing Range. I have also heard he, never had much money, so will do all kinds of things to advance his financial status.

    Here we have a supposed conservation group groveling at the feet of any miner, developer or rancher (can you say Owyhee Initiative) that comes along. They can’t resist saying Yes to anything that might somehow ingratiate them to, or gain them a head nod from, any of Idaho’s politicians.

    Why can’t these people stick to Foothills trails issues, Boise river projects in town, and complaining over Nevada mine mercury pollution wafting in Idaho – and stay FAR AWAY from anything to do with public lands?

    Does anyone really believe their precious cobalt mine will be a Model Mine, and picture of environmental perfection? I’m betting the “mitigation” $$$ will go to more public lands rancher welfare in the upper Salmon country. It will likely just be spent on prolonging the Wolf Killing and general despoilation of all things and places wild by cattle and sheep on Forest and BLM lands through propping up the welfare ranching operations with more fences and cow projects called “riparian protection.

    I wonder, too how those “Wolf Viewing Areas” are coming along? That was THE BIG VICTORY ICL was supposed to be getting in the Idaho Wolf Plan.

  3. matt bullard Avatar
    matt bullard

    Way to go, kt. I always enjoy your positive posts around here. As far as I can tell from reading what you write on this blog, there is NOTHING ever right with Idaho or any of the people who live and work here or even other people and groups who work, albeit in different ways than you, to protect it.

  4. TPageCO Avatar

    Does anyone know where to find the specifics of this agreement? ICL’s web page didn’t have anything, and Rocky’s post looks like he had some press release from the company, but that’s about it. Any help would be appreciated – thanks.

  5. matt bullard Avatar
    matt bullard

    There will be more information available on Monday.

  6. Brian Ertz Avatar

    a little bird says :

    Formation Capital will bond for water treatment during the ravage and in perpetuity afterward – arguably, this is already provided for, or could be provided for, in existing law though there is an argument that it would be a struggle and might not happen.

    mitigation dollars will be extended into a “Conservation Action Program” to be used for riparian restoration, removing fish barriers, and reducing sedimentation from roads on the Upper Salmon. Formation Capital will include ICL in communication concerning environmental issues that happen in the future. All ICL has to do is give up legal leverage and the group has committed to make positive statements in the media about the Canadian mine’s efforts.

    In some circles – they call this “Greenwashing” – I call it unfortunate (IMHO) – the folk who extended this info, holding views similar to matt bullard, call it positive conservation. hard to say really — as matt mentions, more info monday.

  7. kt Avatar

    Hi Matt.

    Well, we await with bated breath the press release on the details of the agreement. Do you know why ICL caved so spectacularly here? What is the backroom deal going down?

  8. Ben Otto Avatar
    Ben Otto

    Why wait until Monday. A responsible compromise would have worked out the issues with specificity prior to announcing it. Seems to me like ICL is delaying so they can bust out there thesaurus and spin the details in some kind of palatable way. I only hope that any details include money set aside, safe from bankruptcy by the mining company, for restoration, emergency responce, and proper planning and design at the actual project site. Monitoring is worthless if there are not sufficient resources, again protected from bankruptcy, to prevent and fix any problems the monitoring reveals. Also, mitigation outside of the immediate area impacted by the mine is essentially worthless since it just moves the destruction from one place to another with no net reduction.

    In short if the “details” do not contain money for site restoration, proper planning and design to prevent releases and degradation, and money for the inevitable failure of the water quality protection measures then ICL’s compromise is worthless and you can pat yourselves on the back for accomplishing exactly nothing. Except for supporting the greenwashing of the mine.

    I, with KT breathlessly await your details.

  9. Kristin Avatar


    You criticize the “negative” people, but something to consider is that ICL owes a lot of its opportunities to the work of the more radical or negative groups. For example, would ICL have been invited to the Owyhee Initiative had WWP not created a perceived crisis through its hard work to regulate over-grazing? No.

    You may owe the radicals more than you think! Diversity of opinions is good.

  10. matt bullard Avatar
    matt bullard

    Kristin, you make a good point that I acknowledge as important and valid, in fact I always have. However, I was not criticizing negative “people”, just my perception of what I thought was an unfair and rather baseless attack made by kt on an organization that also works hard in some of the same areas in which her organization works. I completely understand that there needs to be a diversity of opinions and that those different opinions and approaches can (sometimes) be good for whatever cause we’re talking about. I don’t agree with some of the tactics that WWP uses to achieve their goals, some of which are the same as ICLs. Clearly, there are those that post here that don’t agree with ICL’s tactics and that’s fine, too. But it would be nice to get some acknowledgement that while the tactics might be different, we’re all really working (hard) to move the ball in the same direction…

    Ben, I’m waiting until Monday just like the rest of us.

  11. Brian Ertz Avatar


    greenwashing undermines. so while we may all be looking to move that ball in the same direction – a green group endorsing an extractive industry undermines everyone else’s ability to move that ball – especially when it’s done without letting anyone else know but a few short hours before it goes public, as is the case with this “deal”. ICL’s logo will be strung up the flag-pole of that mine’s operation – sorta like when the group tacitly supported IDFG’s wolf management plan and IDFG paraded the “stakeholder” process around as legitimizing that process. the justification was that ICL would acquire the promise of “wolf-viewing areas” by kissing the state government’s ass at that point – the result was 100 more dead wolves for the annual hunt number on top of the inflated recommendation by the politicized department’s biologists – and no “wolf-viewing areas” – a hollow prospect for wolves to begin with. if the results were as benevolent as the intention — then fine. but these crooked politicians and managers are able to gain much more benefit than conservation with these wheeling-and-dealings – and the effort to demonstrate the danger to conservation values that these proposals inflict is diminished — as the media is more than happy to parrot these hollow promises and string that green flag up high in the paper – and everyone pointing to the empirical reality is cast as marginal extremist/radicals.

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Brian Ertz