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Kevin Rhodes: Reopening mine a mistake

Kevin Rhodes | Other Voices

As a 20-year resident of our fine city of Grass Valley, I got a good giggle out of Christian Stewart’s commentary about opposition to mining from a recent emigrant and a rightly concerned community.

As both our newer Grass Valley resident and Mr. Stewart point out, mining is a central part of our community’s history. Exactly. Our history. Like dirt roads, horse-drawn carriages, treeless surroundings, drunken brawls, blacksmiths and the like. A cool history it is.

Mr. Stewart also rightly points out the reasons folks like this new resident move here. It’s because of the history, the natural beauty, the community spirit, the character, the trails, the water, the music. Our future.

As Rise Gold promises in their public meetings, the mine will bring more jobs. Yes, perhaps, but for how long and at what price? How many qualified residents will fill those jobs? Or will they come from outside or from Rise Gold themselves? Does Mr. Stewart have insight into this?

Perhaps instead of a mine, what Nevada County needs more than environmentally destructive mining jobs is higher wages for the jobs folks currently have and some forward thinking to create better, cleaner, and higher paying industries.

Mr. Stewart also complains about real estate prices, but makes no connection to how mining is going to remedy that, in part because the two are completely disconnected. There are no affordable houses because the county has opted not to construct more.

Those folks who are selling now are reaping big rewards from their investments. and those choosing to stay have greater future value. What’s wrong with that? Not to mention the benefit of a little new blood in the county that will bring new ideas, more tax revenue, more progress and greater improvements to our way of life.

Young kids aren’t interested in mining jobs. Few folks actually are.

And lest we not forget that the part owner and spokesperson for Rise Gold has already gone bankrupt elsewhere and the former company sued for environmental violations.

If mining’s so great and the environmental impacts negligible, why are we still dealing with the remnants of the last operations at great expense to the community, the county and state?

Where will Rise Gold be when future problems pop up 20, 40 or 60 years from now? Will they provide for a trust? What will happen to my quality of life? My property value? Our draw as a community to those young couples Mr. Stewart so wants to have? I don’t think any of us as mine opponents have anything but eyes wide open.

The evidence of mining having a negative impact on us is all around. Malakoff Diggins? Mercury-laden sediments? Empire Mine tailings and many, many others.

And like Rise Gold, I’d bet my boots that all those former companies, none still around for the cleanup, told residents the same story that Rise Gold is telling us today. Perhaps it is Mr. Stewart who should be looking forward to our future and not backward to our rich, yet tarnished history.

Kevin Rhodes lives in Grass Valley.


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