Other Voices: Mine operation would ruin Grass Valley
March 4, 2009
The Idaho-Maryland Mining Corp. hopes to reopen a heavy industrial mine and tile factory inside the city of Grass Valley. If allowed this will be the only hard rock mine inside city limits in the state of California.
This project is absolutely the worst idea to come before the city of Grass Valley in the 23 years I’ve lived here. It includes 84 mitigations “attempts to lessen the severity of a negative impact.
The six, 10-inch, super-heated steam stacks of the tile factory will be visible from most of Grass Valley. They’ll be visible from the Nevada County Contractor’s office, the Board of Realtors office, the Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital, City Hall and from hundreds of homes and businesses.
Our city will look like ” and become ” a factory town. This is not a good fit in a town that makes a large part of its money from tourists and retirees. Property values will be negatively affected.
The mining corporation plans to run a water main to the vicinity of the 18 homes they think will be most likely to lose water from the reopening of the mine. You residents who live near the proposed mine site will know you are having a bad day when you turn on your kitchen sink and all you get is a sucking sound.
There are over 300 private wells that may be affected by the dewatering of 72 miles of underground tunnels. The folks on Banner Mountain are very concerned. Nevada Irrigation District has said these households will not get permanent, pressurized, potable water for up to three years. Would you buy a custom home that has a water truck parked in front of it, or that gets its drinking water from a garden hose? This is actually the mining company’s idea of mitigation.
The blasting and grinding will send out vibrations that will affect the hospital’s sensitive equipment. Several semiconductor manufacturers in the Whispering Pines Business Park will also be affected. One even threatened to leave the area and take high paying jobs with them.
High-tech is a considered clean, light industry. Mining is still a dirty and dangerous industry. This trade-off makes no sense.
Dave Watkinson, the mine’s vice president, has reminded us publicly that his Canadian board of directors could sell the mine at any time.
Newmont Mining Corporation is one of the world’s largest mining companies and one of the worst polluters. They own the mineral rights on three sides of the mine, all the way up to polluted Empire Mine and the Magenta drain. Newmont has just settled a $4 million lawsuit with Grass Valley.
Would our City Council really give one of the world’s worst environmental actors another opportunity to do business in our city limits?
The economics of this project don’t pencil out. Several concerned local groups are currently crunching numbers on this mine’s lack of financial viability. When the research is done, the various scenarios will be presented to the Economic Resource Council and the city of Grass Valley. It is a myth that gold mining will get us through hard financial times. More than likely, this mine will be a net loss.
The traffic plan looks like an E-ticket ride in Disneyland. One-hundred-ten, fully loaded semi-trucks will leave the mine daily and proceed down Idaho Maryland Road to the new traffic circle. Once around the circle these trucks will enter the weave, but not enter Highway 49/20. The trucks are too heavy to reach highway speed, so they’re back off the highway and onto the frontage road.
They’ll proceed in front of the Holiday Inn and finally get on the freeway between the Hennessy School and Safeway. Two-hundred-twenty semi trips a day, every day of the year will have a significant safety effect on downtown.
The people of Grass Valley need to separate the realities of this seriously flawed project from the fuzzy scenario the Idaho-Maryland Mine Corp. has been selling for four years. Science, economics and public safety are more important than mine nostalgia.
I encourage the citizens to learn all they can. To the Planning Commission and the City Council, I urge you to do your job protecting our city and its inhabitants. Declare this heavy, industrial hard rock mine, and its tile factory not feasible. Send this Canadian corporation elsewhere.
Mike Pasner is a farmer and downstream water user in Penn Valley.