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Community submits over 5,500 petition signatures against the mine

On July 12, we presented over 5,500 petition signatures to the Nevada County Board of Supervisors. Over 4,700 were from Nevada County residents. The remainder were from surrounding counties, visitors, and others. We also delivered 1,500 personalized comments drawn from the online petition.

In spoken comments, CEA Foundation President Ralph Silberstein stated “Despite Rise Gold’s claims to the contrary, these petitions add to the growing mountain of evidence that the people of Nevada County are overwhelmingly rejecting the mine. Read the press release.

A huge thank you goes to the hundreds of you who helped with this effort. If you still have petitions in your possession, please get them to us no later than July 31 so we can send an update to the County.

Controversy of the month – Rise Gold “stuffing ballot box”

During the comment period for the Draft Environmental Impact Report, Rise Gold submitted 1,600 reply cards and form letters as “comments” that simply declared support for the mine without following County guidelines to focus comments only on the adequacy of the report. This included over 500 duplicates and multiple spoofed names. In late June, they used those numbers to create a press release claiming that the majority of residents support the mine.

The Union covered it lightly on the 12th, but three opinion pieces published on July 20th tell the rest of the story in all its ugly detail.

Christy Hubbard: Rise Gold resorts to stuffing the ballot box

Related articles:

– Guarionex and Sharon Delgado: We never supported Rise Gold; why do they list us as so?

– Holly Rose: Where did they get my name as a ‘supporter’?

– The Union | Panning for support over mine; Rise Gold and advocates spar over level of opposition to plans to reopen Idaho-Maryland

Nationwide news coverage continues with a recent front-page article in the Washington Post:

A new gold rush pits money and jobs against California’s environment. This insightful piece by journalist Scott Wilson features the stories of two proposed mines, the Idaho-Maryland, and the Conglomerate Mesa project just northwest of Death Valley, CA. Scott puts a spotlight on the serious issue California faces with companies seeking to open old mines and explore in new sensitive regions amid resistance from Californians who want the Gold Rush to remain part of history. This article was “syndicated” and published by several others.


Free Concert Sunday July 31 – Bring your own Picnic

Sunday, July 31st at 5:00 pm | Pioneer Park Bandshell | Nevada City

Join us for a FREE concert to protect our community and celebrate the amazing number of people who are standing up to STOP the reopening of the Idaho-Maryland Mine.

Bring family and friends, picnic food & drinks, and low chairs. Musicians will include the Earbuds, Geoff Eido, Charly Price, The Rosehips, Jerry Gazzaneo, Jonathan Meredith, and a special guest!

A huge round of thanks goes to the Concerned Citizens Roundtable for organizing this event. It is co-sponsored by Community Environmental Advocates Foundation.

If you can help, we’re also looking for a few volunteers to help staff the MineWatch information table and clean up after the event is over. Sign up here.

LOTS of volunteers needed – Nevada County Fair

Who let the hogs out? We need your help with our biggest tabling effort yet. Enjoy the surrounding fun, food, music, and more while talking to folks about the mine. Pick one or more 3-hour shifts that work for your schedule. We’re committed to be there from 10am to 10pm Wednesday August 10th through Sunday the 14th. That’s a total of 80 volunteer slots! Can you help? Sign up here.


Ben Mossman, the CEO of Rise Gold, is back in court in British Columbia, Canada on 9 federal and 20 provincial charges related to the spills at the Yellow Giant Mine in 2015. The court case is scheduled to run through November. Read the Union’s recent coverage. Rise Gold’s quotes are raising some eyebrows.

Together, WE can Stop the Mine!

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By Randall J. Newsome

Of all the lofty promises Rise Gold has churned out over the preceding months, none has been more ballyhooed than the number of jobs the mine would create, and the $94,000 average annual wage they’ll pay. Before anyone runs to get in line for one of these dream jobs, let’s take a closer look.

First, it appears to require a considerable amount of magical thinking to believe the company will ever create a single job. According to its most recent SEC 10-Q report, Rise had less than $400,000 in the bank as of Oct. 31, 2021. By its own reckoning, it needs to plow $100 million into the facility before it can mine its first ounce of gold. It is grossly undercapitalized, to put it mildly, and teetering on the brink of insolvency.

Second, the $94,000 number is totally misleading. According to its March 2021 economic impact report, Rise estimates that it will employ “312 people in Nevada County at full operating levels.” Note that it may take years before “full operating levels” are reached.

Putting that aside, the company says that its annual payroll (not including benefits) for these 312 employees will be $29,220,000. It provides no explanation for how it arrived at this number. Rise then provides a list of job categories and an estimate of employees per category.

What it doesn’t provide is detail as to the average pay for each employee in each category. Only 213 of the potential 312 employees would be local hires, and of that 213, 162 of them would be “local trainees.” Does anyone really think that Rise is going to pay a trainee $94,000 a year?

According to Comparably.com and other sources, the average wage for underground gold miners in the United States is less than $50,000. Even after these 213 local hires are fully trained, does anyone really think Rise will pay almost twice that national average?

So how did they arrive at the $94,000 number? Simple — if you take 312 and divide it into their made-up annual payroll of $29,220,000, you’ll come up with just under $94,000.

By lumping together the salaries of managers (all of which are listed as “non-local hires”), engineers, geologists and other highly paid jobs with the lower-paid miners and mineral processors, the company has provided what I consider a false representation of what someone who lives in our community might actually expect to earn at Rise.

There is a great deal more in the Rise economic impact report that is of questionable validity. That’s why the Board of Supervisors was right to commission its own economic impact report. But all the board or anyone else needs to know about the Rise report is found in italics on the second page:

Mineral resources that are not mineral reserves do not have demonstrated economic viability. Rise Grass Valley has not established mineral reserves supported by a feasibility study.

Rise Grass Valley has not completed a feasibility study to establish mineral reserves, and therefore has not demonstrated economic viability of the Idaho-Maryland Mine.

In other words, the Rise business model appears to be built on sheer speculation, which begs the following question: Why is the county continuing to spend valuable time and money on this project?

The only explanation I’ve heard is that the board has to follow the legal process. Does that mean that every time a carload of people comes to town with an undercapitalized, half-baked, potentially dangerous business scheme and starts throwing around empty promises, the board is required to take it all seriously?

Due process only requires whatever process that’s due under the circumstances, not a seemingly endless process in pursuit of a fantasy. Isn’t it time for this particular fantasy to end?

Randall J. Newsome lives in Nevada City. He has built a reputation for facilitating the resolution of large and complex bankruptcy and commercial disputes, first as a bankruptcy judge for 28 years, and then as a neutral at JAMS. Notable cases include the Pacific Gas and Electric bankruptcy in 2003 and the PG&E bankruptcy in 2019, in both of which he served as the court-appointed mediator.




By Paul Schwartz

There are many development options for the Idaho-Maryland Mine property on Brunswick Road that are better than reopening the mine.

Many options are consistent with the Nevada County General Plan and would not require zoning changes, special use permits, or variances that reopening the mine requires.

There are many development options that bring synergy to current community development and economic strengths. Reopening the mine does not.

There are many options that address community needs, such as low-income housing, employment, carbon reduction and energy efficiency. Reopening the mine does not contribute solutions to any of these community needs.

I would like to offer one development plan vision for the 119-acre Idaho-Maryland Mine property. A good plan would contribute to our growing community economic strengths in tourism, recreation, and the green industry. It would also help solve ongoing and chronic challenges in housing, employment, energy efficiency, and carbon reduction. A good plan would offer opportunities to contribute to the needs of our seniors and the challenges facing the government sector.

I propose a development that includes five uses for the 119 acres. Two of the uses are currently visible at the mine property. Space would be provided for the senior wood project and the emergency lay-down area for fire equipment staging and PG&E emergency equipment and materials staging. These are two important uses needed to serve our community.

Granted, neither of these two generate ongoing revenue to support their presence and the business plan for the redevelopment of the Idaho-Maryland Mine property would need to address this.

The third use I propose would be a commercial RV park including electric, water, and waste service at each site. When looking at the RV park industry, you will find a portion of typical parks offer space for long-term residents while reserving the majority of the park for visitors staying less than two weeks.

This concept would also increase the inventory of destinations during mandatory fire evacuations. The RV park would add another option for tourists visiting our area.

Which leads me to use No. 4: Partner with Empire Mine State Park and the city of Grass Valley to develop a walking and bike trail from Idaho-Maryland Mine to Empire State Park and Memorial Park. The trail could follow Little Wolf Creek.

If I remember correctly, Grass Valley has a utility easement along the creek that former Senior Planner Bill Roberts assured the city Planning Commission could be used for a future trail. The combination of the RV park and the trail would strengthen recreation assets in the area and would add another attractive dimension to the Colfax Avenue business district.

The final use I would propose is a solar farm that’s sized to support the RV park and other uses at the project.

Using the land-use metrics of the current proposal to reopen the Idaho-Maryland Mine of preserving up to 59 acres of the 119-acre site as open space, leaving 60 acres for the new development. Picture 30 acres designated for the solar farm, trails, and lay down areas.

That would leave 30 acres for the RV park. Picture a conceptual 12 RV pads per acre and the opportunity to develop 360 pads utilizing less than 50% of the 30 acres.

This would leave the remaining 50% for circulation, open space, picnic areas, office, store, restroom and shower facilities.

The property could be purchased by Nevada County or in partnership with the city of Grass Valley and Empire Mine State Park using low interest bond funds. The RV park and solar farm could be operated as partnerships with private sector vendors specializing in those types of enterprise or operated within the public management infrastructure.

Obviously, there is a lot of research and number crunching to complete, but the research I have done suggests this concept would pencil out.

Paul Schwartz lives in Grass Valley and is a former University Capital Planner at UC Davis.

By Martin Webb

After a careful review by the county-chosen contractor based in Sacramento, the citizens and organizations that make up Nevada County can safely say they have been vindicated by the Draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) recently released to the public regarding the long-shuttered Idaho-Maryland Mine (IMM).

The over-1,000-page document contains research, analysis, and a summary report. For the reader’s understanding, it contains a helpful “List of Acronyms” section that offers up generous lists of acronyms starting with virtually every letter in the alphabet, except Q, X, and Z, and runs ten pages long all by itself…that’s right…10 pages of acronyms alone.

As part of the Draft EIR’s preparation there was a brief 30-day window of opportunity for individuals and agencies to voice their concerns for the project, listing potential adverse and negative impacts of re-opening an old mine, done via letter. This took place from July 17, 2020 through August 17, 2020 and also included a virtual public meeting on July 27, 2020 for receiving live in-person comments on the scope of the EIR and which adverse impacts to assess.

During that 30 days, comment letters were received from over 750 interested public agencies, people, and groups. This represents a line so long that, if each agency or group were given an hour to express their concerns and ask questions, it would have taken over a month to get through them all without stopping.

As noted in the Introduction, “all comments were taken into consideration.” After analyzing the 750 comment letters for redundancy, the draft EIR listed a grand total of 85 individual and separate concerns (in Table 2-1) regarding the immediate adverse impacts of opening the mine.

These 85 separate negative impacts covered the “following environmental issue areas…addressed in the EIR,” listed as 25 distinct areas of local concern and then grouped into these 13 general categories for the report:

1. Aesthetics
2. Agriculture & Forestry Resources
3. Air Quality, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, & Energy
4. Biological Resources
5. Cultural & Tribal Resources
6. Geology, Soils, & Mineral Resources
7. General Hazards & Hazardous Materials
8. Hydrology & Quality of Water
9. Land Uses, Housing, & Population
10. Noise & Vibration
11. Public Services & Utilities
12. Transportation
13. Wildfire

After analyzing all 85 individual local adverse impacts submitted based on their technical merits, Table 2-1 of the report itemizes them all and tellingly assigned the lowest dismissive designation of “No Impact” (NI) to only two out of 85 areas of concern submitted over the 30-day comment period. Both were related to farming. All other concerns have legitimate merits.

Far from being outliers, or NIMBYs with concerns based more on emotions and prejudice than facts, the report confirms that virtually all local concerns are based on technical validity, covering 83 adverse effects on our community, literally dozens and dozens of negatives. The draft EIR proves that locals know their community in significant ways that out of towners don’t.

So 83 negative impacts and concerns for the community are deemed true and legitimate by the report and its analysis, adverse in varying degrees across dozens of areas, with some rated “less than significant,” some rated “cumulatively considerable,” or even others “significant.” The word “significant” is, well, significant because CEQA law requires any negative effect rated at that level to be required to have a mitigation plan to reduce the level of significance if at all possible. Regardless of their EIR rating, these 83 are all listed as real and they are all negative.

Out of the 83 confirmed negative impacts, 32 rise to the level of significant or cumulatively considerable, the most dangerous of pre-mitigation ratings. The other 51 adverse impacts to the community remained, but were not each called “significant” when measured in isolation.

However, any thinking person can conclude that 51 separate negative impacts levied at the same time to a small local community’s cherished environment – harming everything from natural character to air & water quality to wildfire threats to hazardous materials, traffic, noise and vibration – in 51 different ways – is by definition itself one very significant impact.

Because the draft EIR considers them less than significant, nothing is to be done about any of them at all, because the EIR is allowed to rate all 51 impacts occurring in a vacuum, apart from each other in time or space. Only someone who doesn’t live in a community could ignore the combined significance of 51 negative impacts, harming our resources from air to water to fire suppression and everything in between. We don’t have that luxury.

Out of the 32 significantly adverse impacts, even after throwing all the proposed money, energy, and mitigation planning at them, the draft EIR concludes they will all still remain as adverse impacts to our community, with none ever being given a “No Impact” rating and a noteworthy four major impacts being left as still significant and unavoidable.

These revolve around increased traffic and worsening congestion at a nearby already-dangerous intersection (the Cedar Ridge “Y”), as well as damage to our local natural character in both the short term and long term. Both of those horribly negative, significant and unavoidable impacts are attacking some of the most cherished reasons people move here, visit here, and live here: minimal traffic plus the natural look and character. What a folly to significantly denigrate both of those attractions, with no possible way to avoid either damage.

So the draft EIR confirms we would start with 83 separate negative community impacts across dozens of areas of concern and local importance, and those 83 would remain as negative impacts even after required mitigation, including four rated as majorly significant and unavoidable and one rated as long term, with the other 79 community harms rated as less than significant (note: that is not “insignificant” or “no impact”). This altogether represents an enormous “collective significant impact” of dozens of problems that won’t be addressed.

The draft EIR also confirmed that this inappropriate land use would require the County to:

– Rezone parcels for different industrial use than was currently allowed or planned for

– Ignore existing building height limits in order to “allow for the construction of several structures up to a height of 165 feet” according to the draft EIR, essentially a sudden series of skyscrapers in the forest over 16 stories tall, where current zoning allows a maximum height of only 45 feet

– Allow development in potentially high-erosion areas with steep slopes greater than 30 percent

– Allow industrial development to ignore a required setback for a protected watercourse and riparian area

– Allow grading to ignore the County’s 100-ft buffer to protect the Wolf Creek floodplain

To add insult to injury, the industrial use permit being requested from the County to inflict all this ongoing damage (now confirmed as affecting several dozens of areas of our community) would kick open this door of ongoing significant damage and negative impacts for 80 years, to whoever wants to buy these rights to damage our community in the future.

Only someone that doesn’t live here, and stands to make money off selling the ground out from underneath Nevada County, while leaving behind a spoiled community with 83 negative impacts, could celebrate this draft EIR as some sort of victory or beneficial document of any kind.

This report vindicates and confirms the 750 comment letters – excluding the ones related to farming – that this proposed project would clearly damage and cause collective significant harm in 83 diversely negative and concurrent ways to our local Aesthetics, Forestry Resources, Air Quality, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Energy Use, Biological Resources, Cultural & Tribal Resources, Geology, Soils, Mineral Resources, General Hazards, Hazardous Materials, Hydrology, Quality of Water, Land Uses, Housing, Population, Noise, Vibration, Public Services, Utilities, Transportation, and Wildfire. That is what the draft EIR says. That is what we should heed.

With mining among the lowest job creators in U.S. industry, and global industry data showing 90% of gold used for investment speculation, wealth hoarding, and jewelry, this is clearly a project no one needs, other than those who have staked their income on selling a story that this is a necessary project designed to significantly harm parts of Nevada County for the false notion of adding an insignificant <1% to our existing local job market, an existing job market that dwarfs the airy promises of IMM’s executive sales people, jobs created by the valuable gold located between our residents’ ears. If you’re looking for the gold, we already mine it.

If someone really wanted to bank on Nevada County, to invest in it and create jobs for locals, then injecting tens of millions of dollars into helping create a local business loan program would pay higher dividends than the failed IMM proposal, would create more jobs and wealth, and would not damage our community’s environment and character in dozens and dozens and dozens of ways.

We know how to create local jobs better than anyone. But investing in the community and creating jobs is clearly not the goal. Extracting local ground and turning it into out of town wealth is. We are not “people” they want to help, we are statistics they want to modify.

No to the Mine. The Mine is Dead.

Martin Webb lives in Penn Valley and is a four-time local business owner as well as 20-year local radio host.







By Deni Silberstein>
Reprinted from The Union with the permission of the author.

In a recent Other Voices column, Christian Stewart expressed his opinions about Community Environmental Advocates’ response to Rise Gold’s Centennial cleanup project. CEA spends untold numbers of volunteer hours combing through hundreds of pages of technical documents, teasing out the facts — not the opinions — of what Rise’s plan for the reopening of the mine will look like, and discerning what will be its impact on our community.

Here are a few examples of Stewart’s opinions, and the corresponding facts:

1. “Rise has proposed to pay for cleanup” of the Centennial site. FACT: The Centennial site will be used as a dumping ground for Rise Gold’s mine waste. But since that site is polluted from previous mining dumps, Rise must clean it up before they will be allowed to dump their own mine waste onto it. Cleaning it up is a state mandate; it’s not something Rise “proposed” to do out of the goodness of their heart.

2. “No mining is proposed at all for Centennial.” FACT: It’s disingenuous to say that “no mining is proposed” for the Centennial site — for up to five years, that site will be used, exclusively, for the dumping of Rise’s mine waste until this waste is a 70-foot high pile of rocks. At the end of this time, commercial development may occur atop this rock pile.

3. “CEA has come out against the environmental cleanup process at Centennial.” FACT: CEA is definitely not against the cleanup. CEA is definitely in favor of the cleanup. As mentioned in a previous comment, what CEA is against is the illegal use of the cleanup as a cover-up for the environmental damage that the dumping of Rise Gold’s mine wastes will cause to the Centennial site. In other words, Rise is attempting to subsume mining activities under the masquerade of the cleanup project in order to avoid having to conform to the California Environmental Quality Act. This is illegal, and lawyers have submitted a 25-page document outlining the many laws that Rise will be violating if it proceeds with the cleanup as proposed. Does this mean that Rise either needs to take the time to write a legal cleanup proposal that eliminates the site as a dumping ground for mine waste, or else take the time to include the Centennial dumping site as a component of the mine’s general, CEQA required, environmental impact report? Yes. Doing things correctly often takes more time than not.

4. Stewart says that CEA claims the Centennial site is a “protected natural resource critical to a functioning watershed.” FACT: This is true. The site is “protected” in that it is an area deserving of a fair analysis under CEQA. To disagree with this truth shows either a lack of understanding about the importance and necessity of healthy watersheds, an indifference to them, or both.

5. Stewart claims that a campaign is under way to “save the historic tailings pond.” FACT: CEA is not involved in a “campaign” to “save the historic tailings pond” except to the extent explained in No. 3 above. It is worth mentioning, however, that these tailings ponds, which killed and polluted the entire area for the decades that followed, are slowly beginning to recover. And since these damaged wetlands are all that previous mining activity has left us, it would be beneficial to the watershed to minimize additional man-made damage to them, and let them get on with their recovery.

6. The mine is the “biggest economic development project this county has seen in decades.” FACT: This is an overly-simplified understanding of what is needed for a healthy, foothill economy. CEA recommends reading a summary of the economic study done for the 2008 mine proposal (www.cea-nc.org/the-idaho-maryland-mine/impacts-to-jobs-and-housing-from-the-proposed-idaho-maryland-mine/), which indicates that a mine may not be the best business for the local economy, then waiting to see what the newly agreed upon economic study will reveal.

7. CEA is trying to kill the cleanup process of a “blighted site in the heart of our community.” FACT: See No. 3 above. In addition, CEA completely agrees that this “blighted site” is in the heart of our community, which is why CEA is working hard to prevent another mine from continuing this blighting of our community’s heart.

8. “CEA are NIMBYs enabled by CEQA.” FACT: When it comes to Canadian mining companies ripping up the heart of Grass Valley, then, yep — we’re NIMBYs! And thank goodness for CEQA!

Deni Silberstein lives in Grass Valley.

By Paul Schwartz
(Reprinted from The Union with permission of the author)

Fourteen months ago, Nevada County Planning Department published the notice of preparation (July 17, 2020) that presented Rise Gold’s proposal to reopen the Idaho-Maryland Mine, including 100-plus technical reports prepared under the direction of Rise Gold. The project scope of work and technical reports were made available for review and comments from federal and state agencies, nonprofits, and the public.

Nevada County selected Raney Planning and Management to use the technical reports, the Rise Gold project description, and comments as a basis to complete the environmental impact report.

This year, Raney Planning and Management submitted a draft administrative environmental impact report for review by Nevada County Planning. Nevada County Planning and Raney Management and Planning directed Rise Gold and their cadre of consultants to update, complete additional data collection, and develop further analysis in many of the technical reports. We are still in the administrative draft phase.

If the county accepted the administrative report as complete, it would be retitled the draft environmental impact report and made available to federal and state agencies, Grass Valley and Nevada City, nonprofits, and the public for a 45-day review. Since the proposal is complex, it is likely the review period would be extended to 60 days.

This process could easily extend into 2022. The process will include public hearings before the Nevada County Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors. Many agencies will make specific requests that will influence conditions of approval.

The Centennial cleanup proposal, also a Rise Gold project, is in the review and determinations phase at the Department of Toxic Substance Control and may influence the mine’s draft environmental impact report. If the department determined that the mine proposal and the Centennial cleanup proposal should have one environmental impact report that covers both projects, we would expect process delays.

There is the possibility the notice of preparation and environmental impact report process would need to start over with a new unified scope of work and set of technical reports. Raney Management and Planning would likely redefine their scope of work and enter new agreements with Nevada County. If this were to come to pass, project consideration by the Nevada County Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors could slip into 2023 or even 2024.

The county supervisors circulated a request for proposal on Sept. 2 to complete an economic impact study of the proposed mining operations. The tentative deadline for submitting a proposal is Oct. 8. The draft economic study submittal date in the request for proposals is February 2022. I expect this is a loose date and may change.

The selected consultant would submit a draft report for the supervisors to review and comment. Likely, an additional 60-90 days would be needed to complete a final report.

The supervisors could wait for the economic impact study to act on the draft environmental impact report or not. Approval of the draft environmental report is not a project approval.

I would not expect the Board of Supervisors to begin the project-approval process before benefiting from a completed economic impact study and vetting the conclusions. The supervisors can approve the draft environmental report and reject the project.

At some point the Nevada County Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors will hold hearings to finalize the draft environmental report, and consultants will draft a final environmental impact report.

Public hearings will occur with Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors to consider all public and agency comments received during the application process and finalize a decision on the environmental report.

If the supervisors approved the environmental impact report, the project would proceed to the entitlements phase and project approval. This phase would require Rise Gold to complete schematic level engineering and architectural designs at a sufficient level for county analysis.

Rise Gold would need to acquire the financial resources to fund technical and physical development of the project. Typically, the cost of design, engineering, capital planning and cost modeling is around 10% of the projected budget. If the estimated project cost is $100 million-$200 million, Rise Gold would need to raise $10 million to $20 million to keep the project rolling.

There is a long list of state and federal agencies that require their approvals to advance the project. The entitlements phase could easily become a lengthy process. The Loma Rica Ranch Housing Development Plan was originally approved in the 1980s and only this year has it begun grading the project. We could see the entitlements phase extend the approval process into 2025-26.

There are likely legal challenges and appeals that will follow any level of approval from the Board of Supervisors. If the Rise Gold proposal to reopen the Idaho-Maryland Mine survived legal challenges and the appeals, there would likely be new requirements, redesigns, new bench-marking, new standards for energy efficiency and carbon footprint reduction, and increased bonding requirements. These might require Rise Gold to increase their capital profile to restart the project. After 18 to 24 months in the courtroom, I expect most of 2028-29 would be needed to restart the project.

If Rise Gold were to navigate their way through the environmental review, Board of Supervisors approval, legal challenges and raise enough funding, the two projects would begin rough grading, construct the water treatment pond and the detention pond, construct the underground infrastructure required to support the industrial complex including conduits and pipe for electrical, potable water, waste, fire protection water, data, natural gas or propane, and storm water.

Residential properties relying on well water would need replacement water lines run, including a new water main on East Bennett Road. In addition, the new shaft would need to be constructed. While these improvements were underway, evaluation of the existing underground mine shafts and tunnels would need to occur.

There is the possibility that de-watering couldn’t be undertaken or completed until many improvements were made to prevent shaft collapse or sink holes throughout the system. There is also the possibility that Idaho-Maryland Mine tunnels connect with Empire Mine tunnels and de-watering would require those connections be shut off. This process would likely extend into 2030-31.

Final grading would happen to set the pads for new construction. Infrastructure and utilities would be raised to finished grade and extended where needed. Construction of new buildings would begin. Plans for improvements to the underground mine tunnels based on investigation would continue to advance.

A full water treatment facility would have to be constructed, and the treatment buildings, utilities, equipment, treatment pond, pumps and pipelines would need to be completed before de-watering could begin.

If all the permits were granted and all the prep work completed, de-watering could start as early as 2031-32. Then construction of a new access shaft would be completed and restoration of existing mine works could begin.

When the mine closed for 17 months during World War II, 80% of the Idaho-Maryland shafts were caved in, as reported in Jack Harvey’s history “Gold in Quartz.”

One can only imagine the scope of work needed for reopening after 65 years. All of the facilities and infrastructure for underground crushing, processing, transport and dumping would need to be in built and operational before removing any waste rock. Commissioning of all the systems above and below ground would be completed. The Centennial cleanup project would need to be completed before any waste rock could be relocated there.

Even if all the stars aligned, processing the first ounce of gold would probably not happen before 2034.

Paul S. Schwartz lives in Grass Valley.

Adapted from MinewatchNC Announcement:

Are you concerned about the impact of the mine on PUBLIC HEALTH?

Join us for a virtual community meeting this Thursday at 6:00 pm

Our special guest speaker is Dr. Christine Newsom. Dr. Newsom is a retired internist, long-time volunteer, and active community member of Nevada City and Grass Valley. She will help us understand the potential public health impacts of the re-opening of the Mine.

Thursday, May 27th at 6:00 pm

In this session, you will learn:

–An update on the timeline of the public process, including when the Draft Environmental Impact Report might be released.

–Talking points on the potential public health impacts of mine re-opening, including air quality, water, noise, and societal effects.

— How you can get involved to Stop the Mine!

Hope to see you at this special virtual community meeting!
We’ll have experts online to answer your question throughout.

Register in advance for this webinar:

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

Webinar banner

Follow Minewatchnc Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/MineWatchNC

Six years ago, residents of San Juan Ridge organized to stop the re-opening of the Siskon Mine. This was the second time many of them had fought this battle. The lessons learned from that experience are still relevant today for anyone considering Rise Gold Corporation’s application to re-open the Idaho-Maryland Mine in the heart of Grass Valley. Here’s the original introduction to the video from Vimeo:

“In the foothills of the Sierra Nevada lies the San Juan Ridge. On the Ridge, tucked away amongst towering pines, flanked by two forks of the Yuba River, is a thriving, independent community. There is also a huge gold mine – a vestige of California’s mining era. A mine that, in the 1990’s, caused water to pour out of the aquifer scouring creeks and dewatering wells; a mine that wreaked havoc on the community; a mine that is proposed to reopen. This is the story of what a community can do when they decide that enough is enough, and that they will not trade water for gold.”


Minewatch website

Community Environmental Advocates Foundation
(Idaho-Maryland webpage)

“This year, SYRCL’s Wild & Scenic Film Festival featured a film about the proposed re-opening of the Idaho-Maryland Mine, a relic gold mine in Nevada County, CA. The community faces a foreign corporation that would take the gold from under their property and leave a toxic legacy. Rise Beyond Gold raises bigger questions for the world at large. Why do we desire gold; and ultimately, is it worth it?” (from Minewatchnc: https://www.minewatchnc.org/post/rise-beyond-gold-film)

By Community Environmental Advocates Foundation (CEA)
Grass Valley, CA 02/24/21.

Nevada County has not commissioned an economic impact study on the proposed reopening of the Idaho-Maryland Mine, but they should.

Rise Gold promises they’ll bring 312 jobs to the County, but a prior economic study suggests about half of those would come from out of area, less than 2% of those employees would buy homes, and simply allowing the property to develop according to the County’s existing general plan would actually bring more jobs.

The application documents submitted by Rise Gold show anticipated jobs that will be created once the mine is fully operational.[1] However, questions remain about the quantities and phasing of these jobs, and whether they will be filled from the local workforce or by people with specific technical skills from out of the area. It is also important to know what would be the net gain or loss of jobs in the area as a result of the mine, as well as the impacts on housing that may be caused by an influx of workers.

While it is true that we can expect some evaluation of housing impacts in the Draft Environmental Impact Report when it is eventually published, a more useful and comprehensive economic study regarding jobs, fiscal effects, and economic growth is not being done.

There was an economic study done as part of the analysis for the previous attempt to open the mine by Emgold Mining Corporation, 2008.[2] It must be noted that the proposed project by Emgold was different in several ways. It included a tile factory as a means of disposing the mine tailings by fusing them into tiles. And the main processing facilities were to be on the 56 acre site on Idaho-Maryland Road, not at the Brunswick site. But otherwise, the proposals are similar in that they include dewatering, establishment of a mineral processing facility, and the same basic activities of reopening and operating the mine.

There are a number of things that we can learn from that economic study. For example, because the Emgold project would have included a tile factory, the number of jobs when fully operational was predicted to be more, anticipating full operations to include 400 employees [3] (versus 312 employees in the current Rise Gold proposal [1]). Noteworthy, according to this study, 52% of the jobs would be filled by people who relocated to the Grass Valley area. [4]

Also, a critical piece in assessing the true economic impact of a project is to compare it with the alternative of “no project”. In this case, a comparison was made in 2008 between allowing the property to be developed according to the Grass Valley General Plan versus permitting the mine as per the Emgold proposal.

The findings of this comparison were rather surprising:

“Under the General Plan Land Use Alternative, the land designated for Business Park use (the 56- acre northern portion of the Idaho-Maryland site) would accommodate about 800 jobs at buildout (see Table 9). The proposed Idaho-Maryland project would not generate as many total jobs in the City of Grass Valley. Up to 660 people would be working at the project area when construction and early operations phases overlapped. Over the 14 years of stabilized operations the proposed project would employ about 400 people (see Table 3).” [5]

The “no project” alternative would provide twice as many jobs!

What about impacts to housing in this comparison? The study looked at the number of people who would come from out of the area for the ongoing operations once the construction phase was done. A large portion of them would take up residence as renters. There were also a number of people who would be commuting weekly from out of the area and just renting a room. Only 6 of the 400 would be home buyers. In total, of the 400 employees for operations, it was estimated that about 208 would be from out of the area, and 161 would constitute new renters in the area. [6]

What conclusions can we draw from this study? Granted, it was done 13 years ago, and for a different project. But the fundamentals of the workforce, the local economy, and the housing have not changed much, except that housing is in a shorter supply. In conclusion, it seems reasonable that if the economic study were done again it would have the same basic results: that following the General Plan will produce more jobs, that about half of the workers would come from out of the area, and that most of them would stay in rentals.

[1] Idaho-Maryland Mine Project Description, November 2019, pg17.

[2] Hausrath Economics Group, Economic And Fiscal Analysis of the Proposed Idaho-Maryland Mine Project in Grass Valley, California , July 30, 2008.

[3] Ibid., pg 4.

[4] Ibid., pg 6.

[5] Ibid., pg 19.

[6] Ibid., pg 6, 13.

CEA (Community Environmental Advocates Foundation) advocates for responsible land use and environmental protection policies and actions in Nevada County. Our goal for Nevada County’s future is a thriving community, a strong economy, and a healthy environment. CEA’s parent groups, the Rural Quality Coalition and CLAIM have been working for Nevada County since as far back as 1999.