The discovery of the first gold climbers in the Sacramento Valley at the beginning of 1848 was the start of the American gold rush, and fifteen years later gold was found in what is today the state of Idaho. Mining has been one of the most important industries in Idaho since its inception and is still important today, but in recent decades the focus has been on silver. As a result of higher gold prices, interest in gold has increased in Idaho, which means that old mines have resumed gold mining. Idaho is a state of great gold resources: according to U.S. Geological Survey 1998, Idaho had 335 tonnes of gold resources in significant deposits, which makes it number eight among the U.S. states.

Mine production in Idaho

Mine production continues to be important for Idaho. In recent years mining companies have purchased the rights to abandoned mines from the 1800s and 1900s and returned them to production. Examples of this include Midas Gold, which works to launch the historic Stibnite mine and Otis Gold, which is working to expand the Kilgore Gold Deposit. In addition, Pilot Gold recently acquired the historic Black Pine mine and is planning new drilling campaigns. Idaho is, like Finland, one of the best areas in the mining industry. It was ranked number twelve in Fraser Institute’s 2016 survey.

Mining legislation in the United States and Idaho

Currently, there are two types of mining licenses or mining rights in Idaho: patented mining claims or unpatented mining claims. A patented mining claim is issued by federal authorities which makes the land private. This reduces the requirement for permits and applicable regulations to conduct mining operations on the parcel of land in question. An unpatented mining claim is issued by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) or Forest Service, and such a right means that the owner of the land is entitled to the minerals, but not the land surface. The land area is still subject to all relevant requirements by the state authorities, including environmental permits and related environmental impact assessments. Idaho has a corporate tax of 7.4 percent, and there are no federal royalties.

From exploration to commercial mining operation

The road from initial exploration to the production and sale of commercial products is long. Below is a description of the different elements of a project from prospecting to mining. The time from the selection of an exploration area and prospecting to mining production is estimated to be at least 10 years for a project that develops positively and undergoes all development steps according to the figure below.