Frequently Asked Questions
Current Status of the Project
What is the status of the Project now?
Excellon Idaho Gold filed a plan of operations (the “Plan”) with the USFS on July 22, 2020. Subject to completion of an environmental assessment by the USFS on the Project and the Plan, Excellon Idaho Gold intends to start drilling in the third quarter of 2021.
Didn’t the U.S. Forest Service already approve the Project in 2018?
Yes. Excellon Idaho Gold’s predecessor, Otis Capital USA Corp. (“Otis”), received approval for a similar plan of operations from the USFS in 2018. Otis completed drilling and road construction in the fall of 2019, but the 2018 Environmental Assessment was vacated by U.S. District Court Judge B. Lynn Winmill on May 4, 2020.
Why did the Court vacate and remand the 2018 Environmental Assessment?
The Court concluded that the 2018 Environmental Assessment did not provide adequate information on the Dog Bone Ridge area of the Project, specifically concerning groundwater. This deficiency has been addressed in the Plan and is reflected in the 2021 Environmental Assessment.
Did the Court consider environmental plaintiffs’ other assertions about alleged environmental impacts?
The Court considered several other claims which were ultimately rejected. This included claims that the USFS failed to adequately consider impacts to grizzly bears and whitebark pine and claims that the USFS failed to consider the risks of fuel spills, soil degradation and sedimentation.
How will Excellon Idaho Gold minimize the environmental impact to the land?
The Project only concerns surface drilling, and the effects are minimal. More importantly, all impacts to the landscape will be fully reclaimed, either on a seasonal basis or at the end of the Project.
Does Excellon Idaho Gold plan to use cyanide during the Project?
No. The 2021 Environmental Assessment is only for exploration drilling and does not authorize commercial mining operations. The use of cyanide to process gold in a commercial mining operation is dependent on several factors, including the mining method, which is currently unknown.
How long will it take to complete the Project?
Drilling will be conducted in phases with up to three drill rigs at any time and will take between three to five years to complete; however, active drilling is not anticipated to start earlier than July 15 of each year and will continue until November 15 or, if the weather allows and the USFS consents, December 15. At the end of each operating season, surface disturbances that have not been fully reclaimed will be stabilized to minimize any seasonal effects.
What needs to be constructed to complete the Project?
Roads and drill pads will need to be constructed throughout the Project area.
Whenever possible, previously constructed roads, including already existing USFS roads, will be utilized. Approximately ten miles of new roads have been proposed which will be constructed as needed and will be reclaimed on an ongoing basis. Roads will be constructed using favorable topography or where roadbeds currently exist.
Drill pads will be constructed within the footprint of existing and proposed roads to minimize disturbance. Further, drilling results will be analyzed concurrently and fewer road miles may be needed to complete the Project.
Is Excellon Idaho Gold proposing to clear cut trees during the Project?
No. Excellon Idaho Gold will not be clear cutting any trees during the Project. Further, Excellon Idaho Gold has proposed to take special measures to conserve the existing population of whitebark pine in the Project area. While the removal of some seedlings and saplings for road placement is likely unavoidable, existing healthy, mature, cone-bearing trees will be avoided whenever possible. Where appropriate, Excellon Idaho Gold will undertake to create areas suitable for the regrowth of whitebark pine, which should promote the further growth over time with a diversity of age classes.
How does Excellon Idaho Gold propose to manage the grizzly bear population during the Project?
There were no radio locations of grizzly bears within the Project area between 2000 and 2019 and there is no evidence that grizzly bears inhabit or live adjacent to the Project area.
The Project is situated in an area that is actively and frequently used for recreation activities (camping, hunting, fishing, hiking, and gazing), whereas an abundance of higher quality and less-disturbed habitats for grizzly bear are located north of the Project area.
Nevertheless, the Project is compliant with all relevant conservation management directions for grizzly bears, including the food storage order, the 2016 Conservation Strategy for the Grizzly Bear in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, and the 1997 Revised Forest Plan for the Targhee National Forest.
What about other wildlife including elk and lynx?
In addition to grizzly bears, the 2021 Environmental Assessment considers the potential impact of the Project on numerous other wildlife species, including elk, the Canadian lynx, the American three-toed woodpecker, the Boreal owl, the Columbia spotted frog, and migratory birds, among others. As detailed in the 2021 Environmental Assessment, the USFS has determined that the Project is not likely to either have an adverse effect or contribute to a loss of viability to the population of any of these wildlife species.
What about aquatic wildlife including the Yellowstone cutthroat trout?
Both the Plan and the 2021 Environmental Assessment include measures to protect waterways in and around the Project, some of which are seasonal and intermittent. There is a population of Yellowstone cutthroat trout in Corral Creek; however, the proposed drilling activities are located far from the perennial reaches of this waterway. Further, drilling activities will only use drilling fluids that are used to drill drinking water wells — these are biodegradable and non-toxic.
What are Excellon Idaho Gold’s plans after the Project is completed?
Excellon Idaho Gold places the highest value on being a responsible member of the communities in which it operates, focusing on the long-term for all stakeholders – this Project is no different. Upon the successful completion of the Project along with further collaboration with the USFS, regulators and the public, it is Excellon Idaho Gold’s goal to advance the Project towards development in the coming years. Although it is too early to determine what the advancement of the Project may look like, Excellon Idaho Gold is committed to open and transparent communication with all stakeholders along the way.