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Nov. 27, 2021

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U.S. OKs exploratory drilling for gold mine in eastern Idaho

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BOISE, Idaho — A Canadian mining company hoping to build a gold mine in Idaho west of Yellowstone National Park can resume exploratory drilling, the U.S. Forest Service said Friday.

The agency said it had approved Excellon Idaho Gold’s Kilgore Gold Exploration Project in the Caribou-Targhee National Forest in Clark County. Excellon Idaho is a subsidiary of Toronto, Ontario-based Excellon Resources Inc.

The project had been halted following federal court rulings in 2019 and 2020 concerning potential harm to Yellowstone cutthroat trout in a stream. The new drilling plan pulls water from a different stream officials say doesn’t contain Yellowstone cutthroat trout.

The company says the area contains at least 825,000 ounces of gold near the surface, and potentially more deeper. The company said it is looking at possibly building an open-pit mine if exploration finds that the gold is mostly near the surface, or an underground mine if the gold is deeper.

Those types of mines would require additional approval from the Forest Service.

“As an Idaho native, I know how important it is to protect the animals, lands and waters we all cherish,” Phil Bandy, Excellon’s senior project manager, said in a statement. “I am committed to collaborating with my fellow Idahoans to sustain a balance of economic development and natural resources stewardship.”

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