Current Mining Activity

Idaho’s mining industry is enjoying a resurgence due to the upturn in commodity prices, particularly for metals but also for sand and gravel and other industrial minerals. In 2005, the value of non fuel mineral production in Idaho was $906 million, according to data from the U.S. Geological Survey. This is a new record for the state. Much of the increase in value is accounted for by molybdenum production from the Thompson Creek mine in Custer County. Estimates of 2006 production are down slightly to $810 million. For comparison, 2004 non fuel mineral production in Idaho was $446 million, with the phosphate industry being the largest contributor. Principal metal mines operating in 2007 are the Thompson Creek mine, the Lucky Friday mine, the Galena mine and the Golden Chest gold mine. The Lucky Friday and Galena are deep, underground silver mines in the famous Coeur d’Alene District, one of the world’s largest silver mining areas with over 1.9 billion ounces of silver produced since 1884. Exploration activity in Idaho increased significantly in the past year. For a summary, see the Idaho Annual Review article listed below.

Idaho’s phosphate industry has three large, open pit mines operating in 2007 in Caribou County. They mine phosphate rock from the Phosphoria Formation for use in fertilizers, chemicals and consumer products. Three processing plants are located in Pocatello and Soda Springs. Other important industrial minerals include sand and gravel and crushed stone for aggregate, pumice, industrial garnets, zeolites and building stone.

For more information about geology, historic and current mining areas, gold and silver and other metals, see GeoNote 40, as well as earlier GeoNotes and the Pamphlet Series of the Idaho Bureau of Mines and Geology, available through the Survey’s Moscow office. Mine histories of many properties are also available in the Staff Report publications.

After the Survey canvasses current mining activity each year, the results are reported at the December convention of the Northwest Mining Association. Written accounts are published each year in the May issue of "Mining Engineering" journal and provided to the U.S. Geological Survey Minerals Information Office for publication with their annual Minerals Yearbook chapters. For more details about mining, exploration, prospecting, and mineral resources, contact Dr. Virginia Gillerman in the Boise Branch Office of the Survey.

Note: The Survey is not a regulatory agency. Environmental permitting and monitoring is handled by the federal land management agencies, Idaho Department of Lands, and other state and federal agencies.

Links referenced above
GeoNote 40: Idaho Mining and Geology (2001)
Most Current Idaho Annual Review Article (from "Mining Engineering," May 2007 issue, v. 59:5, pp. 82-86)

       2005 Annual Review Article (from "Mining Engineering," May 2006 issue, v. v. 58:5, pp. 80-85)

       2004 Annual Review Article (from "Mining Engineering," May 2005 issue, v. 57:5, pp. 78-83)

       2003 Annual Review Article(from "Mining Engineering," May, 2004)

       2002 Annual Review Article
(from "Mining Engineering," May, 2003)

USGS Minerals Chapters for Idaho

bulletMines and Minerals
bulletCurrent Mining Activity
bulletInactive and Abandoned Mines
bulletMine Histories

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