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Bureau of Mines / Minerals yearbook: Area reports: domestic 1978-79
Year 1978-79, Volume 2 (1978-1979)

Lockard, D. W.; Bennett, E. H.
Idaho,   pp. 163-175 ff. PDF (1.4 MB)


Page 169

 THE MINERAL INDUSTRY OF IDAHO 169 
Railroad. 
 New EPA lead standards, as proposed, have been criticized by the Bunker
Hill Co. which operates the State's only smelter complex. It sees the standards
as too stringent and economically unachievable. EPA is also seeking a penalty
from Bunker Hill for excessive particulate pollution from the zinc fuming
furnace. 
 U.S. Department of the Interior mineral resource agencies were active throughout
the State in 1978-79. Mapping, both topographic and field, and hydrologic
studies were conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey. Mineral appraisals
were initiated in the Selway-Bitteroot Wilderness area and in southeastern
Idaho. The U.S. Bureau of Mines initiated mineral appraisal studies in the
Selway-Bitteroot Wilderness area and on BLM lands in southeastern Idaho.
The Bureau was also appraising mineral resources of the Fort Hall Indian
Reservation in southeasten Idaho. Alternate mining methods and the feasibility
of recovering byproducts from phosphate rock operations were investigated
by Bureau research centers. Extensive use was made of the Bureau's Mineral
Industry Location System (MILS) and Minerals Availability System (MAS) in
the RARE II and BLM Wilderness planning processes. The Bureau's research
centers supported contracts for a field test on disposal of mill tailings
in surface backfill, a program for destressing rock in advance of mining,
and an evaluation and application of roadheaders in underground uranium mining.
 By yearend 1979, under Title III of the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation
Act of 1977 (P.L. 95-87), the Secretary of Interior had designated 31 schools
and universities nationwide as State Mining and Mineral Resources and Research
Institutes. The College of Mines and Earth Resources at the University of
Idaho was designated as Idaho's Institute during 1978. 
 The 44th Idaho Legislature, second regular session, considered many new
proposed laws for regulating the State's mineral industry in 1978. A new
law was passed concerning design and construction of tail- 
ing ponds; the law requires the mineral operator to secure approval of the
Idaho Department of Water Resources for tailing storage structures. Proposals
to amend the Surface Mining and Dredge Mining Acts remained in committee
or were vetoed by the Governor. A House Concurrent Resolution for amending
Regulations 1 and 2 of the Mining License Tax died in committee. 
 The 45th Idaho Legislature, first regular session, met in 1979 and addressed
relatively few mineral-related bills. One bill, House Concurrent Resolution
9, would have set royalties for mineral products from State lands to follow
rules used by the Federal establishment. The bill died in committee. A pre-filed
bill, one which was never introduced, would have called for reclaiming abandoned
tailing ponds with funds for administration to be appropriated from the mine
license tax payments. 
 The Idaho Bureau of Mines and Geology published a new State geologic map
during 1978, and it conducted numerous geochemical and field geology studies,
some under Federal contracts and grants. Several openfile reports were released
during 1978-79. The Bureau of Minerals, Department of Lands, processed mineral
lease applications for about 1,350 acres of State land during 1978, and more
than 43,500 acres during 
1979. Approximately 76,000 acres were under lease as of July 1, 1979. Approved
active reclamation plans, as of July 1, 1979, totaled 526, covering approximately
20,000 acres. By the end of 1979 there were nine dredge mining permits approved
covering 162 acres, with eight more permits pending. 
 For fiscal year 1978 (July 1, 1978 to June 30, 1979), State receipts for
mineral royalties and rentals amounted to nearly $100,000. Total rentals
and royalties paid the State (mineral, oil and gas, and geothermal) for the
same period amounted to $1.1 million. 
 The Idaho State mine inspection program was terminated in 1979. Inadequate
funding and duplication of services performed by the Federal Mine Safety
and Health Administration were reasons for the elimination. 
REVIEW BY NONFUEL MINERAL COMMODITIES 
METALS 
 Antimony.-.-Antimony production and value increased in 1978 compared with
that of 1977, but decreased in 1979. This decrease was because of production
losses at the 
Sunshine Mine. Sunshine, the State's only producer, had underground transportation
problems and was mining lower silver grade ores. Idaho ranked first in the
Nation in antimony production for both years. 
 Cadmium.—Idaho's output of cadmium 


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