Mike Shea: Why I’m against reopening the Idaho-Maryland Mine | TheUnion.com
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Mike Shea: Why I’m against reopening the Idaho-Maryland Mine

Other Voices
Mike Shea

As you may have heard, a Canadian company, Rise Gold Corporation, and its subsidiary Rise Grass Valley, Inc. (Rise GV), have filed an application with Nevada County for a permit to reopen the Idaho Maryland gold mine.

I wanted to know as much as possible about the proposed operation, so have been going through the documents Rise GV submitted to the county to support their application. After reviewing the Project Description, the Groundwater Hydrology and Water Quality Analysis, the Noise and Vibration Analysis, and the Greenhouse Gas Analysis, I am against reopening the mine. Here’s why:

Living next door to the proposed mine site, I have some selfish reasons for opposing it. For one thing, my wife and I will have to move, because the noise from the mine will be unbearable. We will no doubt lose money when and if we can sell our house, since the mine will lower the value of our property. After all, who wants to live next door to a gold mine? If you do, I have a house to sell you.

The noise study Rise GV paid for tries to assure us all the nonstop noise will be “less than significant,” but I find that self-serving, rather than reassuring. The mine will run 24 hours a day, every day of the year. Each day, 1,500 tons of rock will be hoisted to the surface, dropped into a silo, and then transported over a conveyor system. One thousand tons of rock will be ground down to facilitate extracting the gold. From 6 a.m. until 10 p.m., 1,000 tons of rock will be dumped into metal trailers and then hauled away. Noise from the mine will be nonstop. Right now, all I hear is occasional traffic noise, or a dog barking. In the summer, I like to open my windows and sliding door. I won’t be able to do that anymore.

I also have some unselfish reasons for opposing the mine. First, the Greenhouse Gas Analysis that Rise GV commissioned, says at a minimum the mine will emit close to 9,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide a year. Gold isn’t a strategic metal vital to modern technology or industry. According to the World Gold Council, 9% of the gold supply is used in electronics, 52% in jewelry, and 27% in bar and coin. That means 79% of the carbon belched into our air would be for jewelry or investments for the wealthy.

Not mentioned in the Greenhouse Gas Analysis is the contaminated air that will be exhausted from the mine shaft, 24 hours a day, every day. The mine expects to use close to a ton of ammonia nitrate fuel oil and 257 blast detonators every day. The fumes and dust from this blasting will be vented into our air, along with other chemical and physical contaminants found in gold mines. The documents submitted by Rise did not specify where the wind would carry the exhaust, where it might come down, or what it would contain.

The Groundwater Hydrology study Rise Grass Valley paid for used analytical, conceptual, and numerical models to assure us that wells won’t go dry and that “the project would not have any significant impact on groundwater supplies.” Yet after the mine shaft is dewatered, they will still suck out over a million gallons of groundwater a day. In spite of their models I wonder how removing all that water might affect our forests. Will it further dry out our trees and increase the fire danger in our community, which is already rated as a “Very High” Fire Hazard Severity zone?

Another concern is the truck traffic. Trucks will be carrying tons of explosives through our town; and every day trucks will be making between 50 and 100 round trips hauling fill rock (containing asbestos and silica). For the first 11 years they will travel to Rise GV’s Centennial site next to DeMartini RV and within the Brunswick property. After that they will travel down Brunswick Road to Highway 49 and on to unspecified locations. Every day.

If it’s the possible new jobs that make you support reopening the mine, “possible” is a key word. And keep in mind that gold mines aren’t a sure-fire thing. What happened to the jobs created by the following gold mines: San Juan Ridge Mine, Sutter Gold Mine, Zortman-Landusky Mine, Buckhorn Mountain Mine, Mineral Ridge Mine, and Pimenton Mine? Gone.

Mike Shea lives in Cedar Ridge.


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