Reclamation at the Gay Mine

By 1996, FMC and Simplot notified BLM that all the Gay Mine reclamation required under the federally and Tribally-approved mining and reclamation plans was substantially complete. The BLM and the BIA inspected the Gay Mine and produced a draft report on the status of reclamation, dated July 1997. The Companies’ comments on the draft report reiterated that major reclamation activities required under the reclamation plans were complete. The Companies further committed to a list of “finishing” projects (including grading, fencing, and vegetation in some areas; campsite cleanup; and completion of the land farm to treat contaminated soils) pending BLM approval.

The BLM and BIA presented the Companies’ list of projects to the Tribes for approval in 1997 and again in May 1998, as a proposed final project list to complete reclamation and obtain BIA release from the leases. The Tribes did not approve or disapprove the proposed list, but only asked further refinement on the proposal including rework in the JD pit, work on the Willow Creek crossing, installation of fencing, and evaluation of the potential need for action regarding selenium that had recently been identified as an “area-wide” issue at Southeast Idaho phosphate ore mine sites.

In the absence of Tribal approval on the Companies’ list of final reclamation projects, the BLM and BIA requested that Simplot and FMC refrain from proceeding with any of the reclamation work. In the nearly 13 years that have passed since that time, no reclamation activity has been undertaken at the Gay Mine due to the BLM, BIA, and Tribes unwillingness to proceed with any of the Companies’ final reclamation project.