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By Mike Shea

Cedar Ridge

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. 1,000 tons of rock will be ground down to facilitate extracting the gold. From 6:00 AM until 10:00 PM, 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 (which contains asbestos and silica) 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 eleven 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.

By Mike Shea

This concerns Rise Grass Valley‘s (Rise GV) application with Nevada County for a permit to reopen the Idaho-Maryland gold mine. If your house is on a well and you live in the Cedar Ridge area or in the vicinity of Brunswick, Greenhorn, Loma Rica, Town Talk, and Idaho-Maryland roads, reopening the mine may impact your well.

Before the mine can be worked, the water flooding the mine will have to be pumped out. The Groundwater Hydrology and Water Quality Analysis Report for the Idaho-Maryland Mine Project is inconsistent about how much water they will remove. In one place it says they will pump out 815 million gallons (i); in another, it says they will remove about 576 million gallons (2). Either way, that’s a lot of water.

Once the mine has been dewatered, natural groundwater would continue to flow into the underground workings. That water also would have to be pumped out at a rate Rise GV estimates to be approximately 1,224,000 gallons a day! (3) That may be the same groundwater your well depends on.

The Groundwater Hydrology report says of the estimated drawdown (decrease) of water in local wells, “Within the East Bennett area, the maximum additional drawdown due to the proposed project would be in the range of five to 10 feet.” (4) In response, Rise GV says it will install a NID pipeline along a 1¼-mile section of East Bennett Road and will pay to have houses along East Bennett Road hooked up to NID if the homeowner wishes. But homeowners who previously had free well water will have to pay the monthly NID water bill.

The mine’s underground mineral rights extend far beyond East Bennet Road. The hydrology study assures well owners in other areas that the “maximum potential additional drawdown in the perimeter areas is less than 10 percent of the available water column in individual wells.” (5) It further suggests that “In other areas around the perimeter of the mine workings and in areas where expansion could occur, the projected maximum drawdown in private wells is less than two feet.” (6) Apparently, Rise GV doesn’t see this as a concern, so has made no provisions to provide NID hookups to well owners in other locations whose wells may go dry from the dewatering or the pumping of groundwater.

Even though the hydrology study says that “the project would not have any significant impact on groundwater supplies” (7) it also says “99 percent of groundwater inflow will occur within 550 feet of the ground surface.” (8) One has to wonder how sucking out over a million gallons of groundwater a day from the top 550 feet of soil could 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?

The mine’s mineral rights boundaries can be found in Figure 3A of the Idaho-Maryland Mine Project Description at

https://www.mynevadacounty.com/2882/Application-Documents—Rise-Grass-Valle

Rise GV is currently seeking investors and is painting a rosy picture of their chances of getting the mine approved. I encourage you to make your voice heard now, before it is too late.


References

  1. iGroundwater Hydrology and Water Quality Analysis Report for the Idaho-Maryland Mine Project, March 2020 p.4. Also, Idaho Maryland Water Treatment Plant Design Report, November 2019, Table 2-1.
  2. Groundwater Hydrology and Water Quality Analysis Report for the Idaho-Maryland Mine Project, March 2020, p.70.

  3. Ibid.

  4. Ibid, p.116.

  5. Ibid, p.117.

  6. Ibid.

  7. Ibid.

  8. Ibid, p.75


Notes

 

Editor’s Note: Mike Shea posted the following letter to the Cedar Ridge Nextdoor website on April 15th. Cedar Ridge residents will be most powerfully affected by Rise Gold’s planned noisy operations.

Idaho-Maryland Mine Reopening—Noise Impacts
April 15, 2020

Dear Neighbor,

In case you haven’t heard, Rise Grass Valley, Inc.—a subsidiary of a Canadian company, Rise Gold Corporation—has filed an application with Nevada County for a permit to reopen the Idaho- Maryland gold mine. Unlike when Emgold wanted to reopen the mine several years ago, the Rise GV gold mining operation would take place right in our neighborhood, at the old Bohemia sawmill property at the corner of Brunswick Road and East Bennett Road.

So you can know how the mine will affect you if it is allowed to reopen, from time to time I will post relevant information. What follows concerns the noise Rise GV says the mine will create if approved. The Information comes from the Idaho-Maryland Mine Project Description and the Noise and Vibration Analysis Rise GV submitted with its application.

Construction of the above-ground buildings is estimated to take 18 months. During the construction phase, several industrial buildings—including a 65’ tall (6 story) processing plant—will be built on the Bohemia sawmill property. Exterior construction would occur between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday. (Rise GV estimates that, at the nearest residences, the maximum sound level from this construction would be between 51-69 decibels. For comparison, an average, leaf blower is said to put out around 70-75dB.) Construction inside the buildings would be done 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Adding to the noise, approximately 18.7 acres of trees would be removed.

Construction noise is exempt from Nevada County noise standards, meaning that neighbors would just have to live with whatever noise is generated 24-hours a day for a year and a half.

Once the processing buildings are finished, the mine will be dewatered and the actual mining operations would begin. Rise GV plans call for operating both the above-ground and below-ground mining operations 24 hours a day, every day of the week for 80 years.

1,500 tons of rock would be removed from the mine every day. The rock would be hoisted 85’ above the surface and dropped onto a steel chute located inside the existing concrete silo that you can see from Brunswick and East Bennet roads. From the silo, a chute and 335’ conveyor system would transfer the gold-bearing rock into the processing plant, where the rock would be ground down in a grinding mill to facilitate extracting the gold.

The non-gold bearing rock—referred to as “engineered fill”—would be transferred by conveyor to an enclosed truck-loading building and loaded into metal trailers attached to 5-axle haul trucks. For the next 4 or 5 years, the fill would be hauled from the Brunswick site to the Centennial Industrial Site (“Engineered Fill Site” in the map following, bordered by Idaho Maryland Road, Centennial Drive, and the DeMartini RV site) from 6:00 a.m. until 10:00 p.m., 7 days a week. Trucks would be making this round trip between 50 and 100 times a day.

Once the Centennial site has been filled to capacity, the fill will be hauled across [to?] the Brunswick site. There, the fill would be dumped, compacted, and graded by bulldozers, graders, excavators, and other support equipment. The equipment used will emit backup warning beeps. The 31-acre dumpsite will be filled until reaching 2,800 feet in elevation. This operation is expected to last about 5 years. The closest home to the Brunswick fill site appears to be on Mink Court, only 300 feet away.

After the Brunswick site has been filled, the fill will again be hauled offsite from 6:00 in the morning until 10:00 at night, 7 days a week. Trucks would be making this round trip between 50 and 100 times a day. This schedule would go on for the next 70 years.

In addition to the noise of the hoisting, conveying, dropping, and grinding tons of rock, and besides the noise the fill operation would create, as a resident of the area you can expect to hear noise from some, or all of the following, every hour of the day, every day of the week: a ventilation fan exhausting air at 200,000 cubic feet per minute; compressors; hoists; shaking tables; a furnace; water treatment plant pumps; a turbine aerator in the water treatment pond, and, possibly, the sound of underground blasting.

In addition to the nonstop noise just mentioned, 174 vehicles would arrive and leave the site during a 7:00 a.m. shift change. The main access to the facility would be the current gate on Brunswick Road near Wood Rose Way. (That would almost surely necessitate a stoplight or lights to control the added traffic.) Also, when PG&E shuts down our power, the mine will fire-up four, 2,655 horsepower diesel generators to power the mine’s equipment. The generators would be located in a building next to Brunswick Road.

According to the sound study Rise Grass Valley, Inc./Rise Gold Corporation commissioned, the cumulative noise generated by all this activity, including the blasting in the mine shaft, would be “less than significant” to us nearby residents!

Please, pay attention to the noise you hear over the next few days, then consider what you are going to hear all day, every day if Rise Grass Valley’s application is approved. What will you hear if you open your windows during summer nights? When you work outside or sit on your deck?

The project description, noise study, and other documents related to Rise GV’s application can be obtained at https://www.mynevadacounty.com/2882/Application-Documents.

If you object to having an industrial-scale gold mine in your neighborhood, here some things you can do:

  1. Voice your objections with Matt Kelley, the Project Planner for the County. Mr. Kelly can be reached by phone at 530-265-1423 or by email: matt.kelley@co.nevada.ca.us.
  2. Voice your objections with Dan Miller, who is our District 3 Supervisor. (As of March 2020, Mr. Miller has not taken a position for or against the mine.) Mr. Miller’s contact information is 530-265-1480 and dan.miller@co.nevada.ca.us.
  3. Submit a letter to the editor, or submit an “Other Voices” opinion piece in The Union newspaper stating your opposition to the mine. Letters to the editor must be less than 200 words, Other Voices pieces may be 500-750 words in length. (Other Voices articles must include your name, address, daytime phone number, and a paragraph at the end describing yourself.) You can email a letter to the editor or Other Voices piece to letters@theunion.com.
  4. If you delay or decide against home improvement projects because the mine may be approved, let your contractors and suppliers know the mine is the reason why you aren’t buying.
  5. I understand that the Nevada County Board of Realtors is undecided on this issue. Let your Realtor friends know that you are concerned about your property’s value if the mine is approved.
    Rise GV is currently seeking investors and is painting a rosy picture of their chances of getting the mine approved. I encourage you to make your voice heard now before it is too late.

 

By Ralph Silberstein

Once again Grass Valley has to deal with a Canadian junior mining company trying to open the Idaho-Maryland Mine. Rise Gold Co’s application to re-open the mine is not yet deemed complete by Nevada County Planning Department, but a review of currently available documents provides a glimpse into the nature of the project and the many ways it would impact our community. Here’s just one.

Mining will take place 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at the New Brunswick site at the corner of East Bennett and Brunswick Rd. About 1500 tons of waste rock and tailings will be removed from the mine daily. Of this, 500 tons per day will be mixed with cement to form a paste backfill and re-deposited into the mine. The remaining 1000 tons per day will be loaded and trucked over to the 56 acre former mine site along Idaho-Maryland Road (between De Martini RV Sales and Centennial Drive).

This means that waste rock and tailings from the mine will be transported by trucks making up to 100 round trips per day, 16 hours per day, 7 days per week. There are a lot of residences in that area. To get to the Centennial Drive site, the heavily laden gravel trucks will turn left onto Brunswick Road, pass through the East Bennett Rd intersection and turn onto Whispering Pines Lane to reach Centennial Drive. Then, using bulldozers, graders, and rolling compactors, a mountain of gravel will be formed covering 44 acres up to 70 feet high. A subsequent second mountain of tailings is also planned for on the southern portion of the New Brunswick site along Brunswick Rd. These operations will run for at least 11 years.

Grass Valley has designated the Idaho-Maryland Road site as Business Park and Urban Medium Density Residential, but Rise Gold intends to get this changed to Industrial. Given the housing shortage, and considering the anticipated development of hundreds of homes at Loma Rica Ranch just beyond this site, one might ask why the City of Grass Valley doesn’t just summarily tell the mine to go away now and save a whole lot of trouble. It would be incredibly bad judgment to put a “reverse” gravel quarry at this location just while Loma Rica will be trying to sell homes. Just think, if the proposed Dorsey Marketplace is approved, the 172 units of high end apartments will be built directly above and looking down on this dusty noisy gravel operation as well.

What makes sense is to stick with the Grass Valley General Plan, not allow a rezone. We need to promote a walkable housing and business park community at this close-to-downtown location. It is one of the few places left in our city where this kind of infill development can take place. It would be a bad idea to go with mine waste mountains instead.

For more information, visit cea-nc.org.

Ralph Silberstein

[1] Project application documents may be viewed at https://www.mynevadacounty.com/2882/Application-Documents—Rise-Grass-Valley . Unless noted, see Idaho-Maryland Mine Project Description, Nov 2019;
https://www.mynevadacounty.com/DocumentCenter/View/31023/Applicants-Project-Description

[2] Noise and Vibration Analysis, Table 9, https://www.mynevadacounty.com/DocumentCenter/View/30467/Noise-and-Vibration-Study-Report

[3]Air Quality and greenhouse Gas Emissions Analysis Technical Report for the Idaho-Maryland Mine Project, Feb 2020, pgs 73-74, https://www.mynevadacounty.com/DocumentCenter/View/33583/Air-Quality-and-GHG-Report—ADDED-392020

[4] Average energy usage per CA residence = 667 KWH / month = ~8000 KWH / year. https://www.electricchoice.com/blog/electricity-on-average-do-homes/
IMM will use equivalent to 42,757,000 / 8000 = 5344 houses.

[5] Ibid [3]

[6] Environmental Factors of Blasting Report for the Proposed Idaho-Maryland Gold Project, Sept 27, 2019, https://www.mynevadacounty.com/DocumentCenter/View/30457/Environmental-Factors-of-Blasting-Report

Jan 21, 2020, Press Release
Facing EPA Superfund Designation, RISE Gold Compelled To Cleanup Existing
Idaho-Maryland Mine Tailings

While Canadian mining company RISE Gold Corp was promoting the gold mine potential and alluring prospects of gaining permits to reopen the Idaho-Maryland Mine (IM Mine) in Grass Valley, CA, federal and state regulatory agencies were focusing on the polluted tailings that cover most of the 56.4 acre site and taking steps leading towards a Superfund Designation.

There has been little public disclosure of the contaminated legacy IM Mine tailings, but correspondence from the EPA dated Sept 26, 2019 indicates that IM Mine’s potential designation as a Superfund site was conditionally deferred because RISE entered into a cleanup contract with the California Department of Toxic Substance Control (DTSC).[1] OnAugust 13, 2019, RISE Gold Corp CEO Ben Mossman signed agreements to cleanup the site, also known as the Centennial site.[2] According to the DTSC records, RISE has been dealing with this issue from at least as early as March 13, 2019, when the first Scoping Meetings with the DTSC took place.[3]

Tests conducted in 1993 by Vector Engineering showed elevated levels of arsenic, chromium, copper, mercury, lead, and nickel over two large areas of the legacy tailings, one area originating from the Mercury gold extraction processing that took place prior to 1926, and a second area being from the Cyanide extraction processing that took place from 1936 until the mine closed around 1956.[4] More recent reports from the DTSC determined thatlead, arsenic, nickel, and mercury are present at hazardous levels.[5] Contaminated tailings cover roughly 2/3 of the 56.4 acres with depths ranging from 2 to 20 feet.

As an additional complication, RISE Gold’s recent bid to re-open the mine includes plans to use the site for disposal of 1.6 million tons of mine waste rock and tailings as “engineered fill” over the course of 5 years, covering 44 acres and creating a built-up area 30 to 70 feet above current grade. However, a recently posted geotechnical report indicates that the legacy tailings are not structurally adequate for use underneath the engineered fill, so theyhave to be completely excavated before the dumping can take place.[6] The full extent of the contamination within the tailings is not yet clear, but even if some of the tailings are clean they will all have to be extracted and then remixed with other aggregates before they would be stable enough to be built upon as planned.[7]

Rise Gold has not yet revealed what procedures will be used to get the legacy tailings off the bedrock and safely dealt with before the new waste rock and tailings from mine operations can be deposited. Nor is it clear whether the contaminated tailings will need to be sequestered separately on site, whether they can be integrated into the engineered fill, or whether they need to be trucked to a waste disposal facility.

According to the agreement, the entire remediation process will be overseen by the DTSC. However, Nevada County and other government agencies will be overseeing all operations with respect to the IM Mine’s re-opening permits, which is independent of the DTSC permitting and is a separate project with a separate time frame.


[1] US EPA Transmittal of Preliminary Assessment Report, Sept 26, 2019;
https://www.envirostor.dtsc.ca.gov/public/final_documents2?global_id=29100007&enforcement_id=60472136

[2] Cleanup Agreement, Signed by RISE Aug 13, 2019;
https://www.envirostor.dtsc.ca.gov/public/final_documents2?global_id=60000716&enforcement_id=60458269

[3] Ibid., Exhibit E

[4] “Contaminant Assessment of the Bouma-Erickson-Toms Property”, Vector Engineering,
Nov 1993.

[5] Centennial Geotechnical Report, NV5
https://www.mynevadacounty.com/DocumentCenter/View/31540/Centennial-Industrial-
Site-Geotechnical-Engineering-Report

[6] Centennial Site History, DTSC,
https://www.envirostor.dtsc.ca.gov/public/profile_report?global_id=60000716

[7] Idaho-Maryland Mine Project Description, Nov 2019, pg 16;
https://www.mynevadacounty.com/DocumentCenter/View/31023/Applicants-Project-
Description

Content provided by Community Environmental Advocates Foundation (CEA Foundation)
*** Visit the CEA website at http://www.cea-nc.org *** Contact via info@cea-nc.org ***

Community Environmental Advocates, Press Release, January 14, 2020

A Canadian company, Rise Gold Corporation, aka Rise Grass Valley, has filed an application for a permit to reopen the Idaho Maryland mine. These are some key points from the initial application:
  • The operation will remove 1000 tons of ore and 500 tons of non-gold bearing rock a day with mining continuous 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • The headframe, rock conveyors, ore crushers/grinders, water treatment plant, paste backfill plant, and truck loading area will all be located at the Brunswick Industrial Site at the corner of East Bennet and Brunswick Road. 122,000 square feet of industrial buildings will be constructed at this site.
  • Haul trucks—50 to 100 round trips per day, running from 6 AM to 10 PM, 7 days a week—will dump a mixture of barren rock and processed tailing sand at two sites: the southern end of the Brunswick site, near to and behind homes on Mink Court, Elk Lane, Brunswick Drive, and Cedar Ridge Drive; and at the Centennial site, off Idaho Maryland Rd, along the edge of Wolf Creek.
  • The trucks will be loaded with rock with a front-end loader from 7 AM until 7 PM, 7 days a week. After the rock is dumped, it will be compacted beginning at 7 AM using bulldozers, graders, and rolling compactors. This operation will create a large amount of noise and dust. Dust from these operations is likely to contain asbestos as well as lead and arsenic from massive tailings that must be remediated first.
  • In addition to four industrial-size backup diesel generators, the exhaust from the daily use of diesel trucks, bulldozers, graders, and compactors, will greatly increase greenhouse gas emissions.
  • The paste backfill plant will create 500 tons of backfill every day, 7 days a week. The production of the cement used to make the backfill paste will release an estimated 55,000 pounds of CO2 daily. Thus, the CO2 generated in one day—just by the backfill plant—will be roughly equivalent to the CO2 generated by over 1600 cars.

The project description, noise study, and other documents related to Rise Gold’s application can be obtained at:

https://www.mynevadacounty.com/2882/Application-Documents

If you object to having an industrial-scale gold mine in our community, voice your objections to Matt Kelley, who is the Project Planner for the County, and your Nevada County District Supervisor. Mr. Kelley can be reached by phone at 530-265-1423 or by email to matt.kelley@co.nevada.ca.us. Your district supervisor can be found at:

https://www.mynevadacounty.com/731/Board-of-Supervisors

Demand an open, public process, full disclosure of the current physical and chemical hazards on the properties in question, and the negative impacts the mine will have on our community.

CEA Foundation is committed to being fully engaged to protect our community from the impacts of this massive project. Subscribe to our newsletter for further information.

*** Visit the CEA website at www.cea-nc.org *** Contact via info@cea-nc.org ***