‘No mine’: Protesters oppose efforts to reopen the Idaho-Maryland mine
The sound of drums, chanting and car horns honking filled the Glenbrook Basin Thursday afternoon as about 60 demonstrators protested the proposed reopening of the Idaho-Maryland mine.
The reopening plan proposed by Rise Gold calls for dewatering the flooded mine, rebuilding the existing mine shaft and constructing a second one, and creating a water treatment plant. The company expects to excavate around 1,000 tons per day and produce gold concentrates from the extracted rock using gravity and flotation concentration methods.
Protesters gathered at the intersection of Brunswick Road and Sutton Way said their biggest concerns about the mine were its potential risks to the environment, including wastewater run off, its effect on surrounding well water, as well as air and noise pollution.
Steve Nathan, who moved to Nevada County this year, said he joined the protest because he believes the potential impacts outweigh the proposed benefits.
“It’s hard to find good planets these days,” Nathan said.
Rise Gold CEO Ben Mossman estimated the draft environmental impact report will be complete in a month or two.
Once the draft environmental impact report is completed, the firm will bring the report before the board and the public will have 45 days to comment on it before a final report is compiled, which will include responses to the public and board’s comments. The final report will then go before the Planning Commission before advancing to the supervisors.
The report will 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.
Mossman emphasized that the project will be well regulated by the state water board, the county, and California Environmental Quality Act requirements.
“All the processes and procedures are in place to address compliance and reporting issues,” Mossman said. “And then of course, going through a very intense environmental review by Nevada County, under the California Environmental Quality Act.”
Mossman said the water discharged from the mine would be cleaner than regulations require and “is the same as the drinking water quality standards.” He added blast vibrations would be undetectable in almost all situations, and the noise would be well contained and even lower than the baseline of the surrounding area.
However, many protesters felt that despite the preliminary reports on the mine’s impact, they can’t trust the company’s claims.
Michael DeMartino, organizer with the Alliance for Resilient Communities, said he believes the science and history of mining in the area should be enough to persuade people against the project.
The group, along with the Community Environmental Advocates Foundation, has been organizing people in opposition to the mine, making comments during Board of Supervisors meetings, meeting with community members on Sundays at Pioneer Park, and creating a group of well owners who may be affected by the dewatering process.
DeMartino said the community groups have a long-term plan to educate and pressure the supervisors before the project comes before them for approval.
“This gold money isn’t going back to the community,” DeMArtino said, reiterating that the company’s claims are self-serving.
Other protesters pointed to Mossman’s past as reason to be skeptical.
In 2018, as CEO of Banks Island Gold, Mossman was fined by the Provincial Court of British Columbia, Canada, for one violation of the Environmental Management Act and of one violation of the Fisheries Act. The fines were $7,500 each stemming from failure to notify regulatory officials about discharge of mine effluent into two fish-bearing bodies of water in 2015.
“That’s a completely different company that has nothing to do with Rise Gold, or Rise Grass Valley,” Mossman said. “Environmental compliance has been a top priority for the company.”
Mossman added the past violations did not result in any environmental damage and due to this mine’s design, “those types of discharges cannot happen with this project.”
To contact Staff Writer John Orona, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4229.
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