Idaho judge’s ruling allows Nez Perce Tribe’s lawsuit against Midas Gold to proceed

An Idaho judge has denied a request by a Canadian company hoping to mine for gold in central Idaho to stay a lawsuit filed by the Nez Perce Tribe requesting that the site be cleaned up. The decision by U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill follows last month’s denial of a motion from Midas Gold to dismiss the tribe’s lawsuit outright. British Columbia-based Midas Gold has said its plan for the area about 40 miles east of McCall, where it has never mined, will clean up pollution from past mining companies if it’s allowed to proceed. The tribe filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in August, saying Midas is illegally allowing arsenic, cyanide, and mercury to remain in the area where the tribe has had hunting and fishing rights since an 1855 treaty with the U.S. Midas Gold in the past decade has acquired existing mining claims in the area and is seeking approval from U.S. agencies to start work at what is known as the Stibnite Mining District. The company looked to stay the lawsuit pending the outcome of pollution cleanup negotiations between Midas Gold, the Environmental Protection Agency, Idaho Department of Environmental Quality, and U.S. Forest Service. Midas Gold’s lawyers argued that once the administrative order to govern the cleanup of the property is issued, the court will no longer have jurisdiction. The tribe countered that Midas is only trying to acquire the administrative order and has not proven it will be successful, allowing the ongoing pollution. Winmill agreed with the tribe’s arguments, saying defendants have not demonstrated significant hardship. The EPA has spent 4 million dollars since the 1990s trying to clean up the area in question. (Lewiston Tribune, AP)