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Input sought on Idaho-Maryland mine environmental impact report

John Orona
Staff Writer

Residents have less than two weeks to submit comments and concerns to help direct the scope of the draft environmental impact report for Rise Gold’s proposed gold mining project at the historic Idaho-Maryland mine.

People can submit their comments by emailing Senior Planner Matt Kelley at matt.kelley@co.nevada.ca.us or by calling 530-265-1423 before 5 p.m. Aug. 17.

The comment period is meant to help steer the direction of the draft report and is not intended to provide answers about potential environmental impacts or the project’s approval, Planning Director Brian Foss said at a scoping meeting.

The draft environmental impact report, estimated to be available to the public in late fall, will look at factors like how the project will impact aesthetics, air quality, traffic, wildfire risk, water quality, biological resources and public services.

Once the draft environmental impact report is completed, it will go before the Board of Supervisors, and the public will have 45 days to comment on it before a final report is compiled. The final report will include responses to the public and board’s comments. It will then go before the Planning Commission before it’s returned to supervisors for a vote.

The project calls for Rise Gold to dewater the flooded mine, rebuild the existing mine shaft and construct a second one, build on-site facilities including office and warehouse space, construct a water treatment plant, and allows for mining 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The treatment facility aims to bring contaminants of concern, iron and magnesium, down from their highest sampled concentrations of 1.6 and 0.27 milligrams per liter, respectively, down to 0.3 and 0.05 milligrams per liter — which meet EPA standards for safe drinking water — before discharging treated water into the South Fork of Wolf Creek.

“We are concerned about the non-stop discharge of large amounts of water from the mine into the creek,” Jonathan Keehn of the Wolf Creek Community Alliance said in a release. “South Wolf Creek should not be treated like a storm drain.”

Rise Gold CEO Benjamin Mossman declined to comment on the preparation of the draft environmental impact report.

The report will specifically look at how the six-month initial dewatering process will affect surrounding wells, how discharge from the treatment plant will affect water quality, how the project would affect erosion and nearby faults, how construction and engineered fill hauling will affect traffic and pavement conditions, and will study the noise effects of construction, blasting, mining and water treatment.

The report will consider impacts cumulatively and will also evaluate project alternatives, including not moving forward with the project.

Once operational, engineered fill mined at the project’s Brunswick site, near Brunswick Road and Bennett Street, will be transported to its Centennial site and compacted to create a flat, developable area for industrial use.

Much of the Centennial site, near Spring Hill and Idaho Maryland drives, 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.

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


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