Exploratory drilling proposed near Lake Pend Oreille

By Cameron Rasmusson
Reader Staff

The U.S. Forest Service is seeking public comment on a pair of exploratory drilling holes proposed by Pend Oreille Silica, Inc.

A map of the proposed exploratory drilling. Courtesy Google Maps.

Proposed for the southern end of Lake Pend Oreille on Green Mountain, the company aims to drill two holes of about 100 feet deep and six inches in diameter to a maximum allowance of 200 feet, according to U.S. Forest Service Minerals and Geology Program Manager Kevin Knesek. The drilling is an exploratory effort to determine the level of silica within the property, an objective that has created some public confusion.

“I’m not so sure people understand this is not a prequel to a mine in any way,” Knesek said.

Knesek said the drilling is primarily meant to gather silica reserve data, an essential step in ascertaining the true value of the property. The ultimate objective could be anything from putting together a mining proposal to selling off the property.

“There’s some evidence to suggest that the reason they’re doing this …  is for the sake of selling it,” Knesek said.

According to a property listing on Colliers International, the 640-acre property has an additional 1,700 acres mapped and ready for staking and claiming, with a total potential claim area of 2,340 acres. Within this claim area is an estimated 21 million tons of high-quality silica, the listing states.

It’s too early to reflect on the nature of the public comments U.S. Forest Service is receiving about the proposal, Knesek said. However, the staff has seen a variety of opinions, both positive and negative.

“In general we’ve heard from folks that are saying, ‘We don’t want to see this,’” he said. “Others are saying, ‘Thumbs up, let’s go.’”

The U.S. Forest Service may follow the first comment period with a second, he added, which will take place after information from the first has been compiled.

To comment on the project, email [email protected] . According to an email sent out by Lake Pend Oreille Alliance, the deadline to comment is Jan. 19.

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