© 2023 Boise State Public Radio
NPR in Idaho
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Come meet our Boise State Public Radio Music hosts March 30 at BCT

Stibnite mine project receives first Department of Defense 'Critical Minerals Award'

Previous mining scars cut into a mountain ridge tower above an open pit pond, which is being fed by a river trickling down a rock bed from the right.
Troy Oppie
The Yellow Pine pit at the Stibnite site in Valley County, Idaho, as seen in August 2022.

The Biden Administration awarded nearly $25 million on Monday to a company looking to re-open a mine near McCall.

The U.S. Department of Defense announced it’s giving Perpetua Resources the first “Critical Minerals Award” from Congress’s Ukraine aid package. The company, with headquarters in Boise, is seeking approval to resume mining gold and antimony in the Stibnite site near Yellow Pine.

"It ensures the timely development of an American source of antimony trisulfide," said Halimah Najieb-Locke, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for industrial-based resilience.

The mineral, she continued, "is a critical component for ammunition, which is critical for our defense, generally, as well as for everything happening right now as Ukraine defends itself against the invasion.”

Stibnite produced antimony trisulfide for the U.S. during World War II and the Korean War, and the Department of Defense said it's the only domestic reserve of its kind that can meet its requirements.

In addition to helping with the manufacturing of small arms and missiles, the antimony could be used in the development of batteries.

Biden invoked the Defense Production Act this spring, in particular, to boost domestic sources of minerals needed for the renewable energy transition, such as lithium and cobalt.

Najieb-Locke said the Department expects to make more awards for critical mineral resources in the coming months, based on needs presented by the war in Ukraine.

The $24.8 million going to Perpetua will help it complete environmental studies, but the Department said this will not change the National Environmental Policy Act review process.

Environmental groups have expressed concerns about the project's potential impacts on water temperatures and fish.

Public comments on the project’s latest environmental impact statement are due Jan. 10. The company is hoping to start construction in 2024.

Find reporter Rachel Cohen on Twitter @racheld_cohen

Copyright 2022 Boise State Public Radio

As the south-central Idaho reporter, I cover the Magic and Wood River valleys. I also enjoy writing about issues related to health and the environment.