SODA SPRINGS, Idaho - After six years of waiting, construction is set to begin this week on a new phosphate mine near Soda Springs.
Local leaders said it will be a cornerstone to the economy.
Construction company Monsanto has gotten the go-ahead from the federal government to start work on the Blackfoot Bridge Mine in the hills a few miles north of Soda Springs.
"We're very hopeful that we'll be starting construction within the next two or three days," Monsanto?s David Farnsworth said.
The company said getting through the red tape of government bureaucracy to get the project approved took years.
The big holdup was making sure nothing from the mine could contaminate nearby rivers.
To clear that hurdle the company is spending millions on steps to make sure the phosphate mine has as little of an effect on the environment as possible.
"It will be one of the leading environmental showpieces in the mining industry in the United States, and maybe even worldwide,? Farnsworth said.
Local people in Soda Springs said finally starting work on the new mine is a big deal for the community.
"There will be jobs, good-paying jobs, and families can stay put and keep our local vitality going," City Council President Randy Prescott said.
Initial construction will provide 50 to 80 jobs. Then, when the mine opens, it will provide more than 100 jobs.
Monsanto's current mine near Soda Springs has just more than a year of life left, which is enough time to finish construction on the new site.
City leaders said it would have been devastating if construction on the new mine hadn't gotten the go-ahead from the government.
"They would have essentially had to shut down their operations,? Prescott said. ?All of those jobs would have been lost, would have been moved probably elsewhere in maybe not even the United States."
Another phosphate mining company in the area, Agrium, has just begun the process with the federal government to approve another new mining site in Caribou County.