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Idaho Silver Gem Act, Bill No. 633
The Idaho Silver Gem Act which was introduced as House Bill 633 on March 5, 2010 was passed by the house on March 18, 2010 and then handed off to the Senate for consideration. The statement of purpose provided with the bill reads as follows:
This legislation provides for the State Treasurer to accept an Idaho manufactured silver medallion and bar for the payment of fees and taxes. First the State Treasurer will sell these silver medallions and bars to the public at their market value tied to the daily market price of the U.S. Mint’s one troy, bullion style, silver American Eagle. This silver American Eagle will also be accepted by the Treasurer for the payment of fees and taxes. The medallion and bars will be designed by the medallion committee of legislators already referenced in Idaho Code at 67­1223(3). The initial funds to begin this program may come from pre­sales of medallions and bars, from grants or from the General Fund. The Silver Valley, located in the Kellogg and Wallace area of Shoshone County, is known as the "Silver Capitol of the World." Since 1885, one billion ounces of silver have been removed from mines in the valley.

Currently none of the silver ore produced by Idaho silver mines is processed in Idaho nor in the United States. All of the silver ore produced in Idaho is sent out of the country to Canada, Belgium, Finland, Mexico, China and Korea. The building of a silver production facility in Idaho will allow Idaho silver mines to cut their costs of production and continue to produce should there be a decline in the price of silver. This legislation provides a 10 year real and personal property tax exemption to anyone or any firm who builds a new silver production facility in Idaho. A 10 year exemption from corporate income taxes is also offered by this legislation to any corporation that might build such a new facility. Both tax exemptions apply only to a new silver production facility and sunset after 20 years.

The creation of a new silver production facility can be expected to create 400 to 800 new jobs in Idaho among the mines and at the new silver production facility. According to the Department of Commerce, for every 100 new mining jobs created, Shoshone and Kootenai Counties can expect the creation of additional 132 jobs.

As a result of the Superfund Cleanup activity in the Silver Valley, the state of Idaho now owns approximately 100,000 cubic yards of previously processed ore material and smelter ash. This material is known as the PTM cell (Principal Threat Material) and in 1991 was estimated to have a market value of approximately $100 million. Indium, a soft silvery metal, is the primary ingredient of value in the PTM cell. Using the new hydro­metallurgical processing technology currently available, for which this legislation provides a tax incentive for, a new silver processing facility can process this material while meeting all state and federal permitting criteria.
To view the status and legislative history of this bill, click here.
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