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Public comment opens on new open pit mine

Plans for expanding the Smoky Canyon phosphate mine, east of Soda Springs, are now out for public review.

The Bureau of Land Management in Idaho Falls and the Caribou-Targhee National Forest released a draft environmental impact statement Friday analyzing different alternatives.

If approved, J.R. Simplot Company said the East Smoky Panel Mine Project would develop a single linear open pit in seven sequential phases. It would enable the use of waste rock to backfill previously mined portions of the pit. The company said that would reduce certain impacts associated with the mining process.

The development proposal was moved forward as part of the Trump administration’s natural resource development platform. The administration claims the project would sustain 626 jobs for an additional three years at the existing Smoky Canyon Mine and Don Plant processing facility. It claims the mine would generate approximately $180 million per year in associated salaries and 1,326 indirect jobs.

In addition to the open pit and mining roads, new disturbance would include topsoil stockpiles, reclamation material borrow areas, stormwater ponds and ditches, and a possible de-watering pipeline. Two existing power lines would be rerouted around the proposed open pit area.

Public meetings have been scheduled from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Afton Civic Center on November 13 and at the BLM Field Office in Pocatello on November 14.

You can find additional information about the environmental impact statement here.

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