Phosphate Mining in Southeast Idaho
Phosphorus is an important industrial commodity and an essential nutrient for all life, including agricultural crops. Phosphate mining has been an important industry in southeast Idaho since the early 1900s. Today, southeast Idaho's open-pit phosphate mines supply about 15% of the nation's and 4% of the world's phosphate.
The BLM Pocatello Field Office is situated at the heart of the Western Phosphate Field – the largest remaining phosphate deposit in the U.S. – and administers the Bureau's largest and most complex non-energy leasable minerals program. The BLM oversees 87 active phosphate leases in eastern Idaho on a total of 43,000 acres.
There are four active phosphate mines in the Pocatello Field Office: Rassmussen Ridge, South Rassmussen, Blackfoot Bridge and Smoky Canyon. The ore produced from these mines feeds industrial plants in Pocatello and Soda Springs that produce phosphate fertilizer and elemental phosphorus.
BLM-Administered Phosphate Mines in the Pocatello Area
|Mine||Lessee/Operator||Status||Surface Owner or Agency|
|B, F, S, P|
|Blackfoot Bridge||Monsanto|| A||P, B|
|Smoky Canyon||J.R. Simplot Co.|
A| Active, R| Mining complete, reclamation in progress
Surface Owner/Management Agency:
B| BLM, F| Forest Service, S| State of Idaho, I| Fort Hall Indian Reservation, P| Private
The Pocatello Field Office is also analyzing the potential environmental impacts of several proposals for new mines or expansions of existing operations. The name of each project is linked to the project page in the NEPA Register.