September 21, 2012 | Back to: Sports

A miner's perspective  on gold dredging

Gov. Brown, what have you done? Or do you know what you have done when you signed that bill to stop dredging on the river? Let me enlighten you.

There are facts the Water Resource Department should have told you.

The river is a living thing, and any river with a dam is a dying river.

Fact: The river tools are the gravel, rock, boulders and even the little grains of sand; they cause erosion. Without that movement, it takes 14.3 miles an hour to just move, not carry a 30 inch in diameter cobble stone that is on the bottom of the river, not on the sides.

I say this, because most don’t know the river as I do. The stratum of the river is the middle where it is swiftest, next is the top and then the bottom. It uses its tools to break up the bed rock and make the river deeper. That’s why the river is what it is.

The rivers with dam are not doing this, what happens then is vegetation starts growing and choking off the flow. You then get a swamp: a stagnate fowl smelling water.

In 1974 to 1978, I went through a drought. The power company was holding back water to generate power. By 1976, the water smelled so bad that there was no way I would swim in it.

I lived on the South Yuba River for 25 years but not any longer. I have 40 years mining, I am currently retired. I have seen that river up 25 feet, 6 inches of flow in the summer, the deepest of pools frozen over with thick ice and rapids frozen in place because of no flowing water.

I have seen the vegetation creep in each year; it gets thicker and thicker. There are places I used walk right by the water, but cannot anymore.

And now you, and those extreme environmentalists, want to finish the job? How dare they to tell me that they are saving the rivers!

They are the group that has regulated California out of business.

What? You say what about the mercury, the stuff that is 13.3 percent specific gravity? What? You don’t know what that means? Look it up.

Things that travel together, along with the mercury, are at the bottom of the river. Gold 19.3, silver 13.3 and lead 13.3. Yes, lead. That is the real killer, study the history of Rome.

Now take any one of these metals and add the weight of mercury, that’s called amalgam. It’s a heavy metal, not a brand.

Now these metals are shaken to the bottom, as the river flows, and turned up the bottom, when it is at the highest flow. But not rivers with a dam on them, they will not ever reach that flow.

What it takes is a good warm rainstorm, on top of 1 to 2 feet of snow, for more than a week to 10 days. The snow will hold an inch of water and then it will release the water all at once. Then you’ll have a high volume of water using the tools of the river, moving the mercury and anything else that’s in its way!

So, there you have it; you cannot just leave it alone. That’s where the suction dredge comes in, if they plan to remove the mercury.

And let me perfectly clear, there is no suction dredge that is worth $1 million, that NID asked Dianne Feinstein to put in the federal budget.

Will somebody enlighten me, please? Why should the taxpayer pay for that adventure, the gold and the mercury? Gee!

Did they ever build that bridge up in Alaska, the one that went nowhere fast?

Robert Copenharve lives in Grass Valley.

How dare they to tell me that they are saving the rivers! They are the group that has regulated California out of business.

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Robert Copenharve

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The Union Updated Nov 16, 2012 12:00PM Published Oct 5, 2012 12:39AM Copyright 2012 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.