Newmont Mining Corp. water treatment plant clears hurdle |

Newmont Mining Corp. water treatment plant clears hurdle

The proposed North Star Mine water treatment plan cleared a major hurdle Thursday, though project supporters still have a handful of permits they must obtain before construction can begin.

The Nevada County Planning Commission unanimously approved a use permit for Newmont Mining Corp, a requirement to build the project. Officials said the project, which would run along Allison Ranch Road and would take six to nine months to construct.

The county must first approve grading plans for different aspects of the project before it can proceed. Mine officials also face the possibility someone will appeal the planning commission’s decision within the next several days.

About 40 people attended Thursday’s public hearing about the project, many of them asking how it would affect their property values.

“I think the plan looks great, if I didn’t live there,” Jason Petersen said. “Am I going to lose 30 percent (of my property value)? That freaks me out at the end of the day.”

Leroy Bakelmun said his front door will be 40 feet from the project. Noting Newmont has hundreds of acres, Bakelmun questioned why the project must be located near his and others’ homes.

“Would any of you want to live there?” he asked the commission. “Think about that.”

Water from the North Star Mine is contaminated by naturally occurring metals such as arsenic and manganese. That led Newmont, which owns the mine and is mandated to treat the water, to ask the commission for the use permit.

The project would treat the water before it dumps into Wolf Creek by pumping it from the former mine’s Drew Tunnel. The water would travel through a series of pipelines to two large ponds, where a passive system would remove the metals.

A few attendees to the public hearing supported the project. Kathy Racz said the issue would only become worse if left unaddressed.

“This is one thing that we need to deal with,” Racz said. “We need to look to the greater good, per se.”

Debbe Blakemore, who lives near one of the proposed ponds, said the project must be implemented.

“It’s green. It’s passive,” she added. “I think it makes sense.”

To contact Staff Writer Alan Riquelmy, email or call 530-477-4239.

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