Robert Ross: Reopen mine for world’s sake
It astonishes me how many people in our towns are living in fear of the Idaho-Maryland mine being reopened. It reminds me of folks who are in favor of low-income housing being built until they learn one of those projects is planned for their neighborhood. Then it’s: “Not on my street!”
Well, gold mines don’t produce gold just for vanity items. Gold is also used for many common products, including electronics, as it is about the best electrical conductor there is. From circuits on satellites and the Mars rover, to just about every electronic device we all use daily, gold is a necessity.
Cell phones, smart phones, computers, TVs, music devices, automobile computers, electronic medical equipment, and countless other convenience and necessary items we take for granted all use precious metals in their circuits.
If the mine protesters are so opposed to mining, then perhaps they should give up their cars, their electronic devices, battery-powered tools and so forth, which all depend on mined precious metals and minerals to function.
We have an opportunity here to set the quality and safety standard for a mining operation that we as a community can be proud of, and the rest of the world will be envious of.
There are few other places where the environmental standards are as strict as here in California. So to think that the mine will be spewing out pollutants with these comprehensive environmental and processing regulations in place is ridiculous.
Anyone who is worried about mine pollutants should instead be focused on our county’s ability to accurately test the mine’s spoils. If the county can certify drinking water from water wells, they can also certify mine water and other materials as being safe, too.
That’s why we have taxpayer-funded bureaucrats and endless environmental regulations. So let’s use them and trust them.
When mining is rejected in areas such as ours where we have the highest environmental standards, it only increases the demand on mining elsewhere in other states or foreign countries that have fewer, if any, environmental standards at all.
I can’t imagine there is anyone who hasn’t seen photos or reports on the environmental devastation in Africa, South America, even Canada, and countless other countries where there is little or no enforced regulation on gold mining.
Are you local mine protesters OK with that environmental destruction going on elsewhere in the world? After all, you all still need those mined minerals, from lithium and lead for your rechargeable batteries, to the gold and other precious metals which make all those device circuits function.
So I guess you are OK with mining as long as it’s “not in our town!”
No, we can’t eliminate poor mining practices in other states or countries, but we can show the world how to do it safely and correctly right here, and we can be proud of it. And to some degree, we would also reduce the dependency on destructive mining elsewhere in the world.
Environmentalism isn’t just about Grass Valley. It’s about the planet as a whole.
As far as private water wells go, no one knows ahead of time if or how those wells might be individually affected by draining the Idaho-Maryland mine. We live on a mountain, and gravity pulls water downhill and constantly refills the underground geological fissures.
Where I live here in Nevada City, some neighborhood wells have good water flow, and other nearby wells of the same depth have poor flow. Geology is not all interconnected like a giant sponge. Yes, the specific water well outcome may be unknown, but hysteria is not the answer.
Instead of obsessing on the worst that could happen with reopening the Idaho-Maryland mine, let’s realize that the environmental and other regulations which will be in place will instead give us a positive result and a clean mine operation that we can all be proud of, and set the standard for the rest of the world to envy and follow.
Let’s stop living in fear.
Robert Ross lives in Nevada City.
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