East Smoky Panel Mine expansion of the Smoky Canyon Mine approved
◆ Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management give approval of mining project.
Tuesday, July 28 the Bureau of Land Management Idaho Falls District and U.S. Department of Agriculture Caribou-Targhee National Forest each released a Record of Decision approving “portions of the East Smoky Panel Mine and Reclamation Plan” under each agency’s jurisdiction.
The J.R. Simplot Company proposed “expanding the Smoky Canyon Mine into the East Smoky Panel using a design intended to reduce certain impacts associated with the phosphate mining process.”
“Phosphate mining in southeast Idaho is critical to provide minerals for use in products that support agriculture, wildfire suppression, and other industries in Idaho and elsewhere and to contribute to the region’s economy,” said Bureau of Land Management Deputy Director for Policy and Programs William Perry Pendley. “This joint decision will ensure that these benefits continue for years to come.”
According to information released about the project approval, the East Smoky Panel Mine Project will “sustain approximately 600 jobs for an additional three years at Simplot’s existing Smoky Canyon Mine and Don Plant processing facility, generating approximately $180 million per year in associated salaries and indirectly supporting 1,326 jobs in the region.”
“The decision strikes a balance between resource extraction and conservation, while providing opportunities for high-paying jobs in the local community,” said Mary D’Aversa, Bureau of Land Management Idaho Falls District Manager. “We are pleased that we were able to work with the USFS, Simplot, and the public to come to a decision that provides for responsible phosphate mining.”
The Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service used the Final East Smoky Panel Mine Environmental Impact Statement “to make separate, coordinated decisions related to the proposed project,” a joint release from the agencies stated.
The Record Of Decision released by the Bureau of Land Management approves “the Mine and Reclamation Plan, modifies the existing Smoky Canyon Mine and Reclamation Plan and enlarges the existing leases.”
The Forest Service provided recommendations to the Bureau of Land Management regarding “surface management on leased National Forest System lands.”
The Forest Service Record of Decision approves “Special Use Authorizations for off-lease activities and approves amendments to its land use plan to add management prescriptions and designate utility corridors.”