Time to Evaluate Mining Proposal

by Bob Branstrom

The past few years, Rise Grass Valley has been conducting exploratory drilling at the historic Idaho-Maryland Mine. They have formally requested permits from Nevada County to reopen the mine. The county is moving forward with the required environmental impact report under the California Environmental Quality Act, or CEQA. Sometime after that, the Board of Supervisors will make a decision about whether, or how best, to reopen the mine.

The possibility of reopening the mine provides both opportunities and risks. The prospect of several hundred new well-paying jobs is tantalizing indeed. Diversifying and strengthening our local economy would benefit our community greatly, providing increased support for our local businesses, governments, schools, and hospital.

However, mining operations have a long track record of being dirty and polluting. Reopening the mine requires addressing concerns about noise, dust particulates, and the impact of huge amounts of water pumped from the mine. These and other concerns could have a negative impact on our present-day community.

Much has changed since our local mines were closed in the middle of the last century. We are now a significant retirement, recreational, and tourist area. We don’t want to destroy the good things we have built here. The years have also brought us significant environmental regulations designed to protect us from the problems of past mining.

This brings us to where we are today, the beginning of the review process. It’s time to express our concerns and to evaluate how they are being addressed by Rise. It’s also time to evaluate Rise itself, to see if it can be expected to keep its commitments and be a good corporate citizen in our community.

The next step is “scoping meetings” by Nevada County that will solicit public input on environmental concerns the community has, so these can be addressed in the Environmental Impact Report. You can keep up to date on the project and be added to the County’s email list for the project at https://www.mynevadacounty.com/2881/Idaho-Maryland-Mine—Rise-Grass-Valley.

Let’s engage actively in the review process to make our concerns known and to evaluate both the risks and the rewards of a reopened mine. Then the Board of Supervisors can make an informed decision about what is best for our community. Your voice matters.

2 Comments on “Time to Evaluate Mining Proposal”

  1. Please let me know how I can still give input. With COVID concerns and my mother dying in the midst of this I have not yet been able to give input. When opening up the site tonight it was confusing and I was not able to see where I can make my concerns known. I have a letter I have just opened that also says today at 5 PM they closed the input. I think there should be a way to still voice my concerns as with fire here today and COVID occupying our lives I have been slow to open the letter and respond. Please let me know if I can give input. I live less than a mile from the site and am concerned about the noise , traffic and losing my water. The last company at least was checking our well levels but this company has not done that. Please let me know how to be active in this.
    Nancy McAtee

  2. While the financial boon to the local economy and the associated stimulation of the job market would undoubtedly be beneficial to Nevada County as a whole, it is pertinent to remember that our county is still struggling to environmentally recover from the operations of mines that closed the better part of seven decades ago. While the Modern gold mining industry has been refined, with greatly increased worker safety statistics, it is still an industry that relies heavily on the usage of toxic chemical compounds like cyanide to leech gold from ores. This chemical interaction is significantly safer than the cobalt, arsenic, or other heavy metal reactions used in early mining processes, with a biodegradation rate measured in years rather than millennia. However, a single spill or contamination event would jeopardize the environmental integrity of the Nevada County’s groundwater and watershed, with potentially devastated results for human and ecological health. It is vital that these harmful, long-term consequences be evaluated now, as we are still handling the environmental consequences of previous mining efforts.

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