Other Voices: CLAIM stands by its mine research | TheUnion.com

Back to: Opinion

Other Voices: CLAIM stands by its mine research

In David Watkinson’s March 14 Other Voices, he said that much of the information CLAIM provides regarding the Idaho-Maryland Mine is “incorrect, misleading, and designed to deceive and create fear in the public.” This is CLAIM’s response.

The information we provide to the public is based on the draft environmental impact report, Emgold’s Web site, and other publicly available documents.

– CLAIM’s jobs analysis is based on the Idaho-Maryland Mine Project Documents (Table 6 – Estimated Workforce Phasing, Appendix M, “Socioeconomics and Land Use,” pg. 8). The promise of “400 high-paying jobs for 20 years” cannot be reconciled with the mine’s own projections. (“David Watkinson vs. Idaho-Maryland Mine Corporation” at ncminetalk.blogspot.com, not a CLAIM site).

– Does the rising price of gold represent yet another economic bubble? The only reason for us as a community to question whether gold is a good investment is to consider the financial viability of the project. All profits from the gold would go to corporate headquarters in Canada, since there is no gold tax or profit sharing in this proposal. Conventional wisdom says that the gold bubble is about to burst as the economy recovers.

– The site renderings that Watkinson refers to in his column fail to show several aspects of the project that may be widely visible from well outside the immediate project area.

– Of particular concern are the size of the tailings piles and the super-heated steam from the ceramics project’s six smoke stacks. It is projected that these will be visible from much of Grass Valley and the surrounding community, causing our area to look like a factory town, negatively affecting property values and discouraging other businesses from moving to our area.

– The dewatering of underground mining tunnels is expected to lower groundwater levels. Watkinson is correct that the draft report only lists 30 wells. However, several hydrologists have stated that, due to the region’s unpredictably fractured rock patterns, no one knows how many wells would go dry, or in which areas.

– A great concern is the loss of water resources in a time of growing water scarcity.

– The primary site of the Idaho-Maryland Mine project is 11⁄2 miles from downtown Grass Valley, and would be annexed into city limits before the start of construction. We are not concerned about how many mines operate within city limits in other places, but about whether we should have one in Grass Valley.

Watkinson did not respond to several significant issues raised by Mike Pasner’s recent Other Voices, such as the blasting that could affect the hospital and high-tech industry, and the 110 outbound semi-trucks that would go through Grass Valley every day. He did not state whether Emgold intends, once it has permits, to sell to Newmont Mining Corporation, which has polluted and damaged landscapes around the world and was featured in National Geographic’s January issue, “Gold: The True Cost of a Global Obsession.”

Many people are concerned that already-high asthma rates could be exacerbated by the “substantial pollutant concentrations” released by diesel truck exhaust, industry emissions, and mine tailings containing serpentine, causing asbestos to be released into the air.

Other concerns include: noise, toxins in the water, cyanide trucked through town and used in ore processing, massively increased use of natural gas and electricity, increased greenhouse gas emissions, the overall viability of the project, and plans for 20 years from now, when the mine is closed.

Watkinson challenges CLAIM “to work with the city and mine corporation in a proactive and positive way to build a better project,” but democracy doesn’t work that way. The whole point of the environmental review process is to educate the public about possible harmful effects and to give us the opportunity to debate the issue, determine whether or not the harm can be eliminated, and decide whether the mine should be reopened here.

We encourage everyone to seek out the facts for themselves.

From Sharon Delgado and the board of Citizens Looking at the Impacts of Mining (CLAIM-GV). For more details, including information sources, please visit http://www.claim-gv.org.