Coeur d'Alene Tribe of Idaho

Staff Reports
12/31/00

Sunshine Mining and Refining Co. did not join other Silver Valley companies in a huge environmental trial that began in a Boise courtroom Jan. 22. U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge signed off Jan. 18 on the settlement lifting Sunshine's liability in a case that pits the federal government and the tribe against the remaining mines in the valley. Lodge backed the government and tribe's position that the settlement was "fair, reasonable and consistent.'' He denied an objection by the three mining companies still involved in the lawsuit - Hecla Mining Co., Asarco Inc. and Coeur d'Alene Mines. The long-awaited trial began even as negotiations reportedly continued to settle the case. The Environmental Protection Agency ordered cleanup of a 21-square-mile around Kellogg and is considering adding even more land along the Coeur d'Alene River. The tribe also wants the dross from a century of mining cleaned up throughout the basin. "We're the trustees of the ecosystem," said Phillip Cernera, tribal restoration coordinator. The mining companies are "trying to throw smoke and mirrors" on the environmental facts. The remaining companies originally offered as much as $250 million toward 30 years of cleanup, with $100 million keyed to the price of metals, low for years.

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