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Forest Service OKs search for uranium

A Canadian company’s request to drill 21 exploratory cores on 2 acres of central Idaho’s Salmon River Mountains to search for uranium has been approved by the U.S. Forest Service.

The Yankee Fork Ranger District of the Salmon-Challis National Forest last month approved the Big Hank Exploration Project proposed by Vancouver, B.C.-based Magnum Minerals USA Corp.

The exploration northeast of Stanley in central Idaho was approved as a “categorical exclusion” under the National Environmental Policy Act, meaning no thorough environmental study will be required.

“The Big Hank project meets the intent of the category because it will authorize approval of less than one full year of operations, it requires less than one mile of use and minor repair of existing roads and there are no extraordinary circumstances or other issues that would require the preparation” of an environmental assessment or environmental impact statement,” Yankee Fork District Ranger Ralph Rau wrote in his decision memo.

Rau said the drilling would not harm federally listed species, or cause harm to riparian areas, road-free areas, natural areas, or culturally significant sites.

Associated Press


Bill would preserve miners’ water rights

Idaho mining companies shouldn’t be prevented from using their water rights just because those rights have gone unused for decades due to low mineral prices, according to a bill approved 7-2 by the state Senate Resources and Environment Committee.

The committee on Friday backed the measure meant to help 116-year-old Hecla Mining Co. in North Idaho get access to silver on claims it announced it was buying this week from the Independence Lead Mines Co. for $66 million.

Hecla, which also operates the Lucky Friday Mine near Wallace, is among mining companies in the region that are seeking to expand or revive operations now that silver prices are around $17 per ounce.

The Coeur d’Alene-based company could use some of its old water rights located in the historic Star-Morning Mine district of the Silver Valley to extract ore from Independence Lead Mines claims, said Albert Barker, a lawyer for the mining company in Boise.

Sen. Brad Little, R-Emmett, voted for the bill after saying he was satisfied it wouldn’t result in other water rights holders in the Coeur d’Alene Basin or elsewhere losing access to their water.

Associated Press


Industrial output weak in January

The nation’s industrial output posted a modest increase in January but all of the strength came from a weather-related jump in output at utility companies. Analysts said the poor performance was the latest sign that the economy has slowed significantly in recent weeks.

The Federal Reserve reported Friday that industrial production rose by 0.1 percent in January, a weak showing which matched the December increase and was in line with expectations.

The strength came from a big 2.2 percent rise in output to heat homes and businesses as cold weather returned following a milder-than-normal December when utility output had fallen by 0.2 percent. In contrast, manufacturing output was flat – the poorest showing in three months as factories were feeling the effects of a slowdown that has raised worries the country is slipping into a recession.

Associated Press

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