Two federal agencies have approved a 2.4-mile-long open pit phosphate mine proposed by a Canadian company in southeastern Idaho.
The U.S. Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service late last week issued separate decisions approving the plan by Calgary-based Agrium Inc.
The BLM manages the area where the mining will occur, while the Forest Service manages land that will receive waste materials.
Agrium turns phosphate ore into fertilizer needed by farmers to grow food. Phosphate mining is a major business in southeastern Idaho, and BLM officials said the new mine will preserve 1,700 jobs and generate about $85 million per year for the local economy in Caribou County.
The expected life of the new Rasmussen Valley Mine is just under eight years, and the project follows a pattern where companies move to a new area once an old area is mined out. Mining has taken place in the area since the early 20th century.
The area contains one the nation’s most abundant deposits of phosphate, and agribusinesses Simplot and Monsanto also have mines in the area. But the area also contains 17 Environmental Protection Agency superfund sites because of pollution from past phosphate mining.
Federal officials said the latest mine has requirements to avoid those problems. Read more…