Reopening of mine may lead to 400 jobs
The Idaho-Maryland Mining Corporation held a pair of meetings Tuesday, drawing approximately 50 area residents to its afternoon session at the L.O.V.E. Building in Condon Park in Grass Valley.
Sky-rocketing gold prices have rekindled interest in the mine, which is located on a 101-acre site between Idaho-Maryland Road and East Bennett Road, and has been dormant since 1956.
Director of IMMC Ross Guenther told the afternoon audience Tuesday re-opening the mine has the potential to employ more than 400 people, most of them local.
Guenther said approximately 200 of these new jobs would be in the gold mine. He said the other 200 would be involved with producing ceramic tiles from mine tailings by using a process he invented.
The large influx of workers could affect issues ranging from housing to traffic to the local economy.
In order to minimize trafffic problems caused by the reopening, IMMC would “have our shift changes on nonpeak traffic times,” said Guenther.
Tom Last, planning director for Grass Valley, said a “master environmental assessment” is underway, which includes an inventory of the physical characteristics of the area.
IMMC has hired Environmental Science Associates to perform the assessment, said Last, and they have a “huge team” comprised of various specialists, such as archaeologists and biologists, studying the territory in order to learn more about how reopening the mine could affect water sources, traffic and other issues.
“We’re collecting information right now,” Last said. “It takes time to do that.”
One concern is for nearby wells, which could be depleted by “de-watering” the mine. Guenther said that process would be completed by pumping water into the south fork of Wolf Creek and continuing to let some drain into Wolf Creek.
However, “I don’t think anyone will” be affected in terms of well-water loss, Guenther said. He said the corporation has around $3 million in bonds to ensure “anyone affected would be provided with water.”
Reed Hamilton, member of the Wolf Creek Alliance, said that if the mine is reopened, “the alliance has great concerns about impacts of de-watering and the quality of the water.”
Hamilton said he thought pumping so much water out of the mine would likely have adverse affects.
Wolf Creek Alliance member Eric Engles said he is “pretty much opposed” to reopening the mine. He said pumping all of the mine’s water into the creek could affect the normal flow of the stream, add arsenic, and interfere with the alliance’s proposed trail.
Last said the final environmental report is still about 18 months away. When that is complete, he said, a recommendation will be submitted to the Grass Valley City Council regarding reopening the mine.
To reach the staff writer Josh Singer, e-mail email@example.com or call 477-4234.
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