Bringing the Economy Home


Mining: Idaho's First Industry


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Underground silver mine

This page is no longer being updated. For ongoing coverage of this topic, go to Boise State Public Radio’s website.

The creation and growth of most western states was a direct result of the mining industries that developed in the late 1800s. In Idaho, it was silver and gold.

Mining and other traditional natural resources have taken a big hit in the last decade, but industry representative and some economists believe they’re still a major player in Idaho’s 21st Century economy.

The Idaho Division of Financial Management said the state’s mining industry grew four percent in 2010 and it is projecting “consistent gains” through 2014.  Silver is just one of Idaho’s mining main-stays.  The state also produces molybdenum, phosphorus, lead, zinc and copper.

Latest Posts

Truckers, Mechanics To Lose Jobs At Idaho Molybdenum Mine

Thompson Creek Metals Company answered questions from investors today after announcing yesterday that it will suspend a planned phase of activity at its molybdenum mine in Custer County, resulting in job cuts. The company expects to lay off 104 of its approximately 400 employees, CEO Kevin Loughrey said today.  “They’re going to be primarily truck […]

Updated: Idaho Molybdenum Mine Announces 100 Layoffs

The Thompson Creek molybdenum mine issued 105 layoff notices today according to the Idaho Business Review.  Molybdenum is a metal with a high melting point used in steel alloys, among other things. The central Idaho mine is operated by a company based in Denver and Vancouver, B.C.  The Business Review reports the company estimates it […]

Idaho’s Quarterly Economic Forecast Places Growth On Old Industries

Idaho’s chief economist predicts the state will remain in growth mode over the next few years, but the rate of that growth has been ratcheted down. The Division of Financial Management’s quarterly economic forecast, authored by chief economist Derek Santos, lays out employment and sector growth through 2015. The latest report estimates Idaho will continue […]

Report: Public Lands Support 15,000 Jobs In Idaho

Public lands, recreation, tourism and energy development contributed $1.54 billion to Idaho’s economy last year. That’s according to a report out this week from the U.S. Interior Department.  The department manages 12 million acres of public land in Idaho, or nearly a quarter of the state.  The agency also manages energy and mineral development on […]

North Idaho Miners Find Work After Lay-Offs

Work hasn’t been hard to find for laid-off miners in the Coeur d’Alene area.  The Northwest News Network reports about 250 miners and contractors were laid-off at the end of 2011 when the Lucky Friday Mine was shut down over safety concerns. Since November 2011 Kootenai County’s jobless rate has declined more than two percentage […]

Canadian Company Plans To Explore, Develop Idaho Silver Mine

A Canadian mining company with operations in northern Idaho this week announced plans to explore and further develop the Crescent Silver Mine.  The Crescent mine is located near Coeur d’Alene between the well-known Bunker Hill and Sunshine mines. According to United Silver Corp.’s press release, the four-year, $23 million exploration project could yield a “significant […]

A Seasonal Ski Hill Is One Idaho County’s Top Employer

In about 30 minutes, outdoor winter recreators can escape the snow-less city of Boise and find themselves in a winter wonderland.  It’s the Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area.  Downhill ski slopes along with Nordic and snowshoe trails are perched on the far southern end of Boise County, just across the Ada County line.  It’s this seasonal […]

Phosphate Drives Rural Caribou County’s Economy

The top employer in more than half of Idaho’s 44 counties is a local, state or federal government entity.  Sixteen counties have a private company as the largest employer.  We’re looking at who some of those private companies are, and in some cases, they’re a bit unexpected. Shoshone County for instance, known for its rich […]

Car Sales Are Big Business in One Rural Idaho County

Shoshone County is known as the Silver Valley because of its long history of metal mining, but mines aren’t the top employer anymore.  A car dealership is. Dave Smith Motors employs about 400 people, according to data from the state.  Hecla Mining, the operator of the Lucky Friday Mine comes in a close second, with […]

Idaho Exports Increase in 2011

Idaho’s Commerce Department reports exports totaled a record $5.89 billion in 2011.  According to a press release, the department says exports were up more than 14 percent last year compared to 2010. Idaho’s top exports include; semiconductors (memory chips), industrial equipment, precious and semi-precious metals, agriculture commodities, processed food, fertilizers, paper products and personal care […]

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