Public voices concerns about mine reopening |

Public voices concerns about mine reopening

Wells sucked dry, increased traffic, mine tailings seeping into Wolf Creek, inadequate housing for 400 new employees and their families.

These are some of the concerns raised by area residents during two Wednesday public workshops on the proposed reopening of the Idaho-Maryland Mine in Grass Valley.

The meeting was held to solicit input from the public in an attempt to be as transparent as possible about a project that, if approved, could have an enormous impact on the area. The city has yet to formally begin its environmental review process – typically the first step in processing a project application, and which evaluates the potential impacts to the surrounding area.

It would be an unusual project – very few gold mines in the country have historically been located within city limits – and of great size for Grass Valley; the proposal calls for about 250,000 square feet of buildings on a 140-acre site.

To ensure that the city’s and citizens’ concerns both get fully addressed in the process, “specialized expertise” has been hired, said Planning Director Tom Last. The consultants come from a variety of backgrounds, such as Bill Walker, who specializes in mine geochemistry; Thomas Leeman, a wildlife biologist; and Peter Hudson, a geologist, among others.

The team was selected by the city, but Emgold Mining Corp. will foot the bill.

The Canadian mining company hopes to reopen the mine, which was closed in 1956 after 100 years of gold production. Its plan is to mine for gold, turning the residual tailings into ceramic tiles.

The environmental review process will take a detailed look at the potential impacts of the mine – and how Emgold will then “mitigate,” or reduce, those impacts.

“We are asking for comments now (on the project) to try to create more opportunity, not less,” Last said.

One example is the dewatering of domestic wells.

“I suspect that many of you are here for this specific issue,” said a member of the city’s consulting team, Jeff Harvey. “We want to make sure there is no loss of high quality water to these existing wells.”

During the mid-90s, a proposal was first submitted to dewater the vacated miles of shafts, which now lay beneath the city’s limits. Tad Stearn, another member of the city’s hired team, said that he has had several residents with wells on their properties express worries that their wells might be sucked dry when the water is pumped out of the shafts.

While the answers and possible solutions to this issue are not available until the environmental review process, Last said these are the types of concerns – and questions – the city hopes to receive about the proposed project.

The next public meeting is slated to occur in June or July.


To contact staff writer Brittany Retherford, e-mail or call 477-4247.

The city of Grass Valley is asking the public for help on identifying issues that should be considered for evaluation as part of the required environmental review process for the proposed Idaho-Maryland Mine project.

Questions or comments should be directed to Tom Last, planning director, at:

• mailing address: 125 East Main St., Grass Valley, 95945; e-mail,; phone, 274-4330; or fax, 274-4399.

Concerns should be submitted by Feb. 8.

• Residents should also contact Last if they would like to be included on a mailing list to receive project updates.

• For more information about the project, visit the city’s Web site at Copies of the application are also available at city hall, at the Grass Valley Library and the Madelyn Helling Library.

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