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In an 1865 letter to the New York Times, an anonymous writer explained in better terms than anyone today could why the young Territory of Idaho was worth more than just “passing notice” as a mining jurisdiction.

“Her bosom teems with rich lodes of silver-bearing quartz of incalculable value, before which the mines of Spanish America pale,” the author of the letter wrote.

What the author so poetically pointed out about Idaho in 1865 remains true today. Even 153 years later, Idaho’s mineral wealth remains world class. The difference between now and then, however, is that today the state is also home to world-class modern mining infrastructure to match that wealth.

Idaho remains a prime mining jurisdiction, and as such mining continues to be a cornerstone of Idaho’s economy as well as its history. The state is ranked as the 28th best mining jurisdiction in the world for investment attractiveness, according to the latest Fraser Institute rankings, and has consistently been in the top 10 for American jurisdictions.

Idaho’s mining industry

It’s not an exaggeration to say that the state of Idaho exists as it is today because of its mining industry. The first exploration initiatives began in 1860, and the gold rush from 1863 to 1866 is what put the territory on the map; Idaho produced as much as 19 percent of US gold during that time. Mining is the state’s oldest industry and its strength was largely what drove Idaho to be admitted to the Union in 1890.

Currently, Idaho’s state government is doing what it takes to retain the mining strength that made the state what it is. Benjamin Davenport, executive vice president of the Idaho Mining Association, told INN that policy makers in the state have taken a pragmatic approach to regulation of mining and other industries. This approach includes tax incentives as a means of encouraging rural jobs.

For example, the state offers a 100-percent exemption for the sale of equipment and raw materials used directly in manufacturing, processing, mining, fabrication or logging operations, and another exemption on utilities and industrial fuels. Additionally, the Governor’s Office of Energy and Mineral Resources serves to help mining companies navigate the regulatory framework and lays out the job creation incentives that the state has made available.

Like other US jurisdictions, the permitting process in Idaho does take some time, but according to Davenport the process is far from insurmountable and the door to mining operation in the state is comparatively wide open.

“In Idaho you will find an open-door government that is interested in ‘getting to yes’ on a project. The leadership in our state knows what it takes to get projects off the ground and will work with industry to find the right path forward,” he commented. “As long as the mining is done responsibly with the financial assurances in place, our state will continue to welcome industry with open arms.”

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