Protecting Public Health and the Environment.

Champ & Mountain Fuel Mines

Champ Mine
Champ Mine

History of Champ Mine

The Champ Mine and its extension are located in the upper Dry Valley, Caribou County, Idaho. The mine was an open-pit operation located on two low hills on the valley floor. USGS explored the area as early as 1911 and again in 1947. Commercial interests in the area were developed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) when it held a competitive lease sale on September 26, 1951. The federal phosphate lease (I-04979) was issued to Frederick P. Champ of Logan, Utah, on April 1, 1954. Additional acreage was added to the lease in 1957 and 1963, but no mine development or production was developed on this enlarged lease. 

In September 1982, the Conda Partnership was formed and initiated mining operations. Additional reserves were found on an adjacent deposit whose lease was owned by FMC Corporation. Negotiations were entered into, and FMC Corporation assigned part of its adjacent federal phosphate lease to Conda Partnership on June 1, 1983. In 1984, mining operations were escalated. All economically recoverable phosphate ore reserves on the original lease, I-04979, were mined during 1984 with mining operation moving to federal lease I-19602. The lease was modified to add more acreage on January 1, 1985.

By later in 1985, all recoverable phosphate reserves on the Champ Mine Extension, I-19602, had been mined. Backfilling of the pits with overburden and waste had been taking place continuously during the mining phase, and with the completion of mining operations, final reclamation was initiated. The final reclamation consisted of completion of pit back filling, overburden replacement, contouring and reseeding, and was competed in 1986.

Completion of mining and reclamation did not see the end of all of the business maneuvering that was associated with these federal leases. Beker Industries, Inc., one of the Conda Partnership, declared bankruptcy on December 10, 1986, and sold its interests in the Conda Partnership to Nu-West Industries, Inc., on July 24, 1987. The other Conda partner, Western Cooperative Fertilizers (US) Inc., became Nu-West Mining Inc. on July 14, 1992. Nu-West Mining Inc. is wholly owned by Nu-West Industries, Inc., so in essence, the old Conda Partnership was consolidated and ceased to exist. On August 10, 1995, Nu-West Industries was acquired by Agrium, Inc., a Calgary, Alberta, Canada, agriculture and chemical company. All through these various business dealings, the federal leases, I-04979 and I-19602, continued in effect, albeit worked out.

Source: A History of Phosphate Mining in Southeastern Idaho, William H. Lee, 2000.

History of Mountain Fuel Mine

Mountain Fuel Mine
Mountain Fuel Mine

The Mountain Fuel Mine (sometimes referred to as the Upper Dry Valley Mine) is located in Caribou County, Idaho. The mine extends for over 3 miles and is located on federal Lease I-012989. USGS excavated an exploration trench in July 1911 with no further exploration until 1947. 

An application for a federal lease was filed by Wells Cargo Inc. on November 20, 1961, but was rejected because of insufficient information. Wells Cargo withdrew its application and BLM held a competitive lease sale on August 23, 1962. Monsanto Company and a partnership of John D. Archer and William J. Colman submitted sealed bids. Archer and Colman were recognized as the high bidders, thus securing the rights of the lease. On April 1, 1963, W. J. Colman assigned his portion of the lease to J.D. Archer, and on the same date, Archer assigned the entire lease to the Mountain Fuel Supply Company.

The Mountain Fuel Mine began ore production in late 1985. It continued operations into 1993 at an annual production rate of approximately 1.6 to 1.7 million tons of phosphate rock. During the latter part of 1993, all of the economically valuable ore in the mine was extracted and in November 1993 Conda Partnership closed production at the mine and initiated final reclamation. On June 1, 1995, the lease was assigned to Nu-West Mining, Inc., the parent company of Nu-West Industries, Inc.

Source: A History of Phosphate Mining in Southeastern Idaho, William H. Lee, 2000.