Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Job Creation Council Meets With CuMo

Thirty-six area residents attended the meeting held at the new Centerville Fire Station on May 11, to get the skivvy on what the CuMo mining project will mean to Boise County residents.

The CuMo Project is an exploratory drilling operation evaluating a mineral deposit in southwest Idaho, fourteen miles northwest of Idaho City. Geologic sampling has inferred the existence of more than six billion tons of molybdenum oxide, copper, silver, and tungsten worth nearly $100 billion at current market rates--the CuMo Project may include one of the largest moly deposits in North America.
L-R: Noelle Lovern, Kyle Fend, John Cottingham and Jessica Gasiorowski.
John Cottingham, Director of the Boise County Job Creation and Retention Council (JC/RC) began with an introduction of who the Boise County JC/RC is and what their mission is.  He explained that they are groups of citizens from all sides of the county that want to promote job growth, tourism and the supportive infrastructure that will be required  to promote new and existing jobs in Boise County. He emphasized that they want Boise County to benefit from the CuMo project: "It's what we focus on. The game is to make the project produce as many jobs as it can accomplish." CuMo claims that in the current phase of exploration they will hire 50-60 workers and if approved, the Project will create as many as 5,000 jobs during construction phase and 1,000 for one-hundred years during production.
The purpose of the meeting was CuMo Project Community Support and a "shopping list" of support the community needs from CuMo.  Cottingham introduced Kyle Fend, CuMo Environmental and Permitting Manager, Public Relations rep Noelle Lovern, and the respective JC/RCs.

The Boise County JC/RC has formulated a marketing plan. They will focus on Social Media for their outreach.  A request for funding has been submitted to Southwest Idaho Travel Association, under the Idaho Travel Council.  They have requested $10,000 from SWITA and will be requesting matching funds of $10,000 from CuMo. The theme is, “Small Town Idaho”, which denotes friendliness and low cost.  They are requesting this money to make a web page that is activity- oriented.  It will show the locations in Boise County where specific activities are accessible.  Additionally, $5,000 is needed for upgrading the Idaho City Chamber of Commerce web page, which complements the “Boise County Adventures” JC/RC site.

The second item on the list states that residents need cell phone services and the mine will require cell service.  The additional heavy usage by the mine should make the economics for cell coverage in the county viable.  JC/RC requests that Mosquito Consolidated (owners of the project) initiate a contact at the highest levels of Verizon and CenturyLink to ask them to provide service ASAP.  The BC JC/RC will pursue grants to support the capital investment.

Third, Boise County residents will need skill set upgrade support from CuMo and the State.  If the mine will help the school districts devise a curriculum that will support required job skills of the Project, JC/RC could train the workers here in the county, provide jobs for our youth and allow the mine to train their own employees through programs supported by State agencies.

Cottingham said that the Idaho Departments of Labor and Education want to help. All  the JC/RC has to do is outline a viable program and these departments will help them with applying for grants to pay for a major part of them. It is important that the participants in education programs contribute personally in order to be committed to them. To audience questions at the Capital for a Day in Garden Valley, Governor Otter replied that he and his staff are supportive of this kind of program. 

A major objective in the "shopping list" JC/RC submitted to CuMo is to create the jobs for residents on the shortest schedule possible. According to Cottingham, that means helping to shorten the permitting cycle to the greatest degree possible: "The way we can make that happen is for residents to support the project in the permitting hearings. If you give them a reason to do that with overt support of the businesses (Boise County Adventures program) and individuals (job training), we will have a chance to get their support in public meetings."

When JC/RC has asked cell phone companies about service in this area, the response is that there are not enough people.  They have asked CuMo to contact Verizon or Century Link. They need data other than census data so will get tourist traffic data from the county.  It is projected that four cell towers would be needed, at a  capital cost of $3.6 million.  If CuMo will contact the cell phone companies, JC/RC will contact the tower developers.
Fend read  a letter written for Verizon and Century Link, which requests their help in setting up phone service in this area. In part, it reads "...cell service is not only a public safety need--we are mindful of the overarching needs of the community...if the mining does proceed, CuMo is available to discuss ways we could create a thousand good jobs and cellular service."

Mr. Fend also commented that they are not ready to say the project is economically viable.  He said that it does look good.  The company will be working on one area at a time and will be looking at a "napkin area" of 1500 meters by 100 meters, to confirm their initial core drillings results. He affirmed that once the company decides if there are enough minerals to open the mine, it will be five years to plan the construction phase and one and one half to two years to build. The design phase for community planning will begin at same time as permitting. Fend says they have time to put a training program in place, which was a  main vocalized concern at the meeting.

Mr. Cottingham emphasized that the cost to CuMo for 2012 is well under $2,000 and only some time working with the JC/RC in developing the needed skills descriptions and the "skills residents have" inventory questionnaires. With that information, JC/RC can develop a curriculum for classes to upgrade residents' skills. He deduced, "If we train them, they'll be ready; if the mine doesn't work, they'll be prepared to go somewhere else to get a job. We're not looking for a lot of money from CuMo--we're looking for support and we'll go put this together!"

Thanks to Jessica Gasiorowski for some of the notes used in this article.


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