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Mine may be revived

Mining days are nearly here again, Ross Guenther told the Grass Valley City Council and dozens of area residents Tuesday evening.

Guenther, now director of the Idaho-Maryland Mining Corporation, has been working to resurrect the Idaho-Maryland Mine for nearly 30 years.

Emgold, a Canadian mining company, owns the mine, which unearthed more than 150,000 pounds of gold from 1862 to 1956.



Guenther’s last serious effort to bring the mine back to life flopped 10 years ago, when the price of gold tanked and European investors backed out of an agreement to remove water from many of the mine’s 72 miles of underground tunnels.

This time, however, the “dewatering” and gold mining operation will be linked with a ceramics-making process, which will convert mine tailings into ceramic tiles and bricks.




“We won’t have any tailings or environmental waste products whatsoever left over,” Guenther said.

Guenther said Emgold expects to spend the next two years working to acquire all of the necessary permits, which will require studies of traffic, air and water quality, noise, and other potential effects of the mining operation.

Then, he hopes to begin removing water from the mine through the New Brunswick shaft south of East Bennett Road.

Water in the mine reaches 260 feet below the surface. He said he doesn’t expect the pumping to affect nearby residential wells because they extend only 100 to 200 feet below ground.

Just in case, Guenther said Emgold would provide water to any well owners affected so “no one will miss a day.”

Water would be pumped from the mines at rates varying from 500 gallons per minute in the summer to 1,200 gallons per minute in the winter, treated to remove iron and manganese, and discharged into the south fork of Wolf Creek.

Guenther said Emgold expects to spend one year pumping water down to the 1,000 foot level.

The actual mining will be concentrated at a 102-acre site between East Bennett and Idaho-Maryland roads, where a visitor center and the ceramics plant would be located, although Emgold has mineral rights to more than 2,700 acres underground.

Guenther likened the sounds emitted from the proposed crushing facility to a car idling.

“The noise is really reduced compared to the old days,” Guenther said.

During its projected 20-year life span, the mine and its ceramics plant are expected to employ about 400 people and remove more than 1 million ounces of gold.

Emgold is also planning to build about 360 houses on its property north of Bennett Street.

Emgold will file a formal application with the city and then the city will hold a public workshop, Mayor Gerard Tassone said.

“This will be talked about in great detail later,” Tassone said.


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