PacWest Silicon smelter project

Project status: Environmental review. 

PacWest Silicon plans to build a silica smelter near the city of Newport in Pend Oreille County.

The first step in environmental review is to conduct a study to evaluate impacts of the proposal and potential options to help protect people and the environment.
We’re reviewing public comments and preparing a scoping report followed by a draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).
PacWest Silicon proposes to build the smelter on more than 180 acres to produce up to 73,000 tons of silicon metal each year.

The manufacturing process combines quartz rock (supplied by the company HiTest Sand) wood chips, and coal and charcoal with extremely high temperatures to produce the metal.
Environmental review (SEPA)

An EIS can analyze probable impacts on both the natural environment and nearby communities including how the project could affect air quality, plant and animal habitat, transportation, and cultural resources. Multiple alternatives can be studied in an EIS.

After public input is considered, we’ll finalize the scope of the EIS and then prepare a draft study that will be available for public review and comment sometime next year.

The final study will be an impartial, comprehensive document used as resource for future decision-makers and the public to evaluate the company’s permit applications.

Graphic timeline of EIS process

Tentative review schedule subject to change. Plain text version.

Project information Public review and comment
Map of proposed location for the project, southeast of Newport.

Project location

PacWest Silicon is proposing to build a smelter on more than 180 acres at the Washington-Idaho border to produce up to 73,000 tons of silicon metal each year. 

Silicon metal can be used in the manufacture of many common household products, photovoltaic solar cells, electronics and steel.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Administrative and SEPA process questions

What is SEPA? How does the environmental review process work? Is a checklist required to initiate SEPA? What is an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)? What is the process for developing an EIS? What is scoping? What type of comments are helpful during scoping? What happens if the project description is too vague, inaccurate or the project changes? How are the EIS and project permits related?

PacWest Silicon's proposal and SEPA

Did the Pend Oreille County Commissioners request Ecology take the lead SEPA role? Did the company or Ecology skip a step in SEPA to expedite the process? How can the public provide input on the proposed project?

Environmental permits and authorizations

What environmental permits and authorizations will be required for the project? When will environmental permitting begin? What's the process for applying for a Prevention of Significant Deterioration (air quality) permit? What is the process for obtaining a water right?