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Canadian company ready to start process for silicon smelter on Idaho-Washington border

A Canadian company that wants to build a silicon smelter near the northeastern Washington town of Newport says it’s ready to start the environmental review process.

PacWest Silicon recently sent a letter to the state Department of Ecology, describing the $325 million project.

The Spokesman-Review says state officials must decide if the letter contains enough information to determine whether an environmental impact statement is needed.

PacWest plans to build the smelter on 186 acres south of town, along the Washington-Idaho border. Company officials say the smelter will create about 400 jobs during its construction, and employ up to 150 people once it is operating.

But the smelter has been divisive. Some local residents support the job creation and others raise concerns about air pollution and impacts on rural neighborhoods.

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