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Impacts of Idaho-Maryland mine to be revealed soon

John Orona
Staff Writer

FOR YOUR INFORMATION

Review the Rise Gold project plans at http://www.mynevadacounty.com/2881/Idaho-Maryland-Mine---Rise-Grass-Valley

In just a few months, Nevada County will decide whether its gold mining past will also be its future.

Last year Rise Gold Corp applied for permits allowing it to reopen the Idaho-Maryland mine, and last month the Board of Supervisors continued the process by choosing a firm to prepare the project’s draft environmental impact report, which hopes to bring to surface any community concerns.

According to a county staff report, the firm, Raney Planning & Management, was chosen in part due to its ability to address water and traffic impacts.

Previous attempts to revive the gold mine in the 1950s, 1980s and most recently in 2010 have all fell short due to financial complications and community pushback. The mine’s previous owner, Emgold, was not able to produce an environmental impact report before Rise Gold purchased approximately 93 acres of surface land and about 2,750 acres of mineral rights of the mine for approximately $2 million in 2017.

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Once the draft environmental impact report is completed, the firm will bring the report before the board and the public will have 45 days to comment on it before a final report is compiled, which will include responses to the public and board’s comments. The final report will then go before the Planning Commission before being finalized by supervisors.

According to Rise Gold CEO Benjamin Mossman, the draft report may be available by September, with additional permitting processes anticipated to continue through January 2021.

PROJECT

Rise Gold will build processing and administration buildings on the site where the company will produce gold concentrates from the extracted rock using gravity and flotation concentration methods. The mine is expected to excavate around 1,000 tons per day.

The mine’s shaft will be rebuilt and a second shaft will be constructed to be used as an escape and service shaft.

The company will need to dewater the mine before performing advanced exploration and mining the underground workings.

Water removed from the site would be treated through aeration followed by filtration through a manganese dioxide filter in a man-made pond on the site before an estimated 500-1,200 gallons per minute are discharged into Wolf Creek.

No cyanide or mercury would be used in the mineral processing.

Once operational, engineered fill mined at the Brunswick site, near Brunswick Road and Bennett Street, will be transported to the Centennial site and compacted to create a flat, developable area for industrial use. About 1.6 million tons of engineered fill over a five-year period are expected to be used for the Centennial site.

Much of the Centennial site, near Spring Hill Drive and Idaho-Maryland Drive, is either too unstable to build on or contaminated with arsenic from past mine tailings. According to Rise Gold, it is working with the California Department of Toxic Substances Control to remediate the site using the engineered fill.

Mossman said the site would be mostly hidden from public view.

COMMUNITY CONCERNS

According to Rise Gold, based on reports from prior attempts to reopen the mine and its environmental analysis, the company would be able mitigate the community’s concerns, which have centered around water and air pollution, traffic and noise.

According to Rise Gold’s technical reports, the traffic from hauling engineered fill will reach a maximum of 100 trips per day, and all construction and mining activities would fall below the significance threshold for greenhouse gas emissions. The reports say the most likely concern for noise — construction — would need to meet standards for significance.

The reports also state the project has the potential to discharge pollutant material into Wolf Creek, but compliance with waterboard regulations would make the impacts not significant.

The company plans to construct a pipeline serviced by the Nevada Irrigation District, which would supply about a half dozen property owners whose wells are in the area with potable water, a move it said is purely precautionary.

However, some residents say no amount of mitigation is enough for them to approve of the project.

“I don’t think it’s suitable for this area no matter what they’re doing (to mitigate),” Nevada County resident Jim Wahler said. “It’s an industry that doesn’t belong in this community anymore.”

Wahler said he’s concerned about the environmental impacts, but doesn’t believe the company would be able to do enough to make it worth the risk.

“All they’re going to do is try to say pretty things to make it seem all right, but it’s not,” Wahler said. “I sure as heck hope that our Planning Commission wakes up, there’s no benefit.”

Others are concerned with Mossman’s past business dealings.

PAST PROBLEMS

In 2018, Mossman was fined by the Provincial Court of British Columbia, Canada, for one violation of the Environmental Management Act and of one violation of the Fisheries Act. The fines were $7,500 each.

According to a release from the Canadian Environment and Climate Change office, in 2015 as CEO of mining company Banks Island Gold Limited, Mossman failed to notify regulatory officials about discharge of mine effluent into two fish-bearing bodies of water.

The company filed for bankruptcy in 2016. Mossman said the mine his company was exploring was closed down over land rights issues with First Nations people and not because of environmental issues.

According to Mossman, the discharge was an isolated incident, the result of “a bypassing of a settling sump,” meant to contain any sediments or debris.

“The Idaho-Maryland mine design incorporates containment, recirculation, and water treatment. All water pumped from the Idaho-Maryland mine would first go to the clay lined pond and then into the water treatment plant,” Mossman said in an email. “Water discharge from the water treatment plant would be very clean water and heavily monitored by employees and state regulators.”

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RELATED RESOURCES

http://www.TheUnion.com/coronavirus

http://www.MyNevadaCounty.com/coronavirus

Coronavirus Guidance for Businesses/Employers

Nevada County Relief Fund for Covid-19

To contact Staff Writer John Orona, email jorona@theunion.com or call 530-477-4229.


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