As miners hunt for clean-energy minerals, tribes fear a repeat of the past

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Perpetua would dramatically increase the mine’s footprint, digging three pits hundreds of feet deep. According to analyzes from environmental critics, this would divert streams and a river, potentially damaging more than 20 percent of the area’s salmon and trout habitat. (The company disputes these assessments and says it would actually increase salmon habitat by restoring damaged rivers.) The Environmental Protection Agency has said the mine could produce mercury pollution and lasting contamination of streams and rivers. underground waters.

Mining machines on site will crush millions of tons of ore and then use cyanide to extract the gold. The waste, a contaminated sludge of 100 million tons of soil and water, will be stored in a mountain valley behind a 450-foot stone dam. Perpetua says it is a secure design, fortified by liners and a huge rock buttress, but a spill or leak could harm fragile fish populations and cause long-term environmental damage.

To transport thousands of construction workers, miners and support crews to a remote site on winding and rutted dirt roads, Perpetua plans to dig a new road on the edge of pristine wilderness. Heavy trucks will make 65 trips a day for years. Some residents who have watched drivers lose control and hurtle down mountains, their trucks landing in streams, say they are terrified of the environmental consequences of a roadside spill.

Perpetua has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars wooing neighboring communities and reviving its image as a mining company that can help produce the technology to wean America off fossil fuels.

The company’s largest shareholder is billionaire investor John Paulson, a supporter of former President Donald J. Trump, but Perpetua has reached out to pressure politicians in Washington. The company spent $ 200,000 in Washington, DC, lobbying, retaining a former Obama energy policy official and an aide to former Senator Harry Reid, a powerful Democrat in the United States. Nevada with close ties to the mining industry.

The company has also made unusual efforts to build support for local communities. He presented a plan to local officials promising to give grants to a nonprofit foundation he set up to support community projects, with the company contributing more each time the project reached a new milestone – after securing federal approval, after obtaining final permits, after starting construction. and after the start of production.

Colby Nielsen, chairman of McCall’s town council, said many residents were opposed to the project and he felt the company’s proposal was inappropriate.


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