Reed Hamilton: What’s in mine for us?
I’ve been following the discussions of the proposed reopening of the Idaho-Maryland Mine, trying to think about what the project might mean for us here.
Previous comments have mentioned the vast amount of water to be pumped and treated in perpetuity, toxic waste, explosion risk, possible dewatering of wells, noise and air pollution and road damage of heavy truck traffic, noise and dust from blasting, devaluation of neighboring homes, enormous energy requirements.
The mine CEO has proposed the increased tax revenues and jobs as credible benefits. He has also suggested some not very creditable ones, such as increasing home values and helping the homeless situation. I don’t think those are realistic.
Aside from those aspects of the project, comments have pointed out the financial weakness of Rise Gold and its short history, including bankruptcy and the CEO’s abandonment of the toxic waste of another mine.
When I look at the whole picture the question is what do we get out of this?
While we could benefit from more good jobs, will those hires be local or imported? Will the jobs be mostly temporary? Will tax revenues offset the increased cost of public services and road maintenance from an industrial project?
Will the increase in power demand threaten our already vulnerable electrical system? Will mining activity decrease the value of local businesses and residences and, if so, by how much?
Will our tourist industry be damaged by traffic, noise and pollution from the mine? Will telecommuters who have been moving here stop coming and reduce the sales revenues that their lucrative jobs produce for local government?
Does Rise Gold have financing for the whole project or are they only hoping they can get it if they get county approval? Assuming that mitigation for the damages can be effective, will Rise Gold stay solvent if the price of gold falls as it has many times? If Rise Gold does go bankrupt, will there be adequate bonds to support the mine water treatment forever and elimination of other pollutants?
These are complex questions, but they deserve answers. Without answers, we and the Nevada County Board of Supervisors are proceeding on assumptions and unsupported claims.
It’s clear that a thorough economic analysis of the project needs to be completed before any decisions are made.
Reed A. Hamilton
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This letter is in response to Elias Funez’s excellent article on the relationship between the Nevada County Airport, Cal Fire and the Loma Rica development.