Arrow-right Camera
News >  Idaho

Timeline: Uranium mining and Midnite Mine

1946: U.S. Atomic Energy Commission is created. The commission offers contracts at generous prices to spur development of a domestic uranium industry.

1954: Brothers Jim and John LeBret discover uranium on the Spokane Reservation. They and their partners form Midnite Mines Inc.

1955: Newmont Mining Corp. joins with Midnite Mines to develop the deposit. Dawn Mining Co. is formed. Ownership is 51 percent Newmont and 49 percent Midnite Mines.

1955 to 1965: Dawn Mining Co. sells uranium to the Atomic Energy Commission, the only buyer at the time.

1958 to 1965: Dawn provides an average of $1 million a year in dividends to Newmont.

1969: After a four-year shut down, Midnite Mine reopens to sell uranium for nuclear power production.

1981: Operations cease at the Midnite Mine.

1988: One of the mine’s open pits has hundreds of millions of gallons of contaminated water. Federal government raises concerns about water overtopping the pit.

1991: Dawn ordered to operate a water treatment plant to prevent Pit No. 3 from overflowing.

1997: Federal government starts negotiations with Dawn and Newmont for study and cleanup of the site in compliance with environmental laws.

1999: Spokane Tribe sues to prevent storage of radioactive wastes from other sites at the Midnite Mine.

1999: Midnite Mine proposed for Superfund listing.

2005: Federal government sues Newmont and Dawn for cleanup costs at the site.

2008: U.S. District Judge Justin Quackenbush rules that the U.S. government, Dawn and Newmont are each responsible for one-third of the Midnite Mine’s cleanup costs.

SOURCE: Staff research, federal court documents