By J. Pelton
There are some in this community who are looking for the future in the rear view mirror, who have managed to convince themselves that a mining proposal by a foreign company with no reliable income, debt, and declining stock value is going to somehow save Grass Valley from the recession that has the rest of the country in the doldrums.
Are we so lacking in imagination in this town that we cannot see beyond hardrock gold mining for jobs? Sustainable industries, including those that employ alternative energy and energy efficiency technologies, are beginning to take off in other more forward thinking counties in California.
Think about what a massive mining operation within city limits would do to property values and tourism, whether more desirable employers would even be interested in relocating here, and whether young families would want to live here.
As one contributor to the local newspaper recently stated so eloquently, “we have to stop thinking short-term profits for a few at the expense of long-term consequences for all of us”.
The Idaho-Maryland mineral boundaries cover 2800 acres underground — clockwise from Glenbrook Basin, over to the airport, down to the Y at Brunswick and Hwy 174, and under the Nevada Memorial Hospital — almost as large as the entire surface area of Grass Valley itself.
Emgold’s own estimates for both the proposed tile factory and gold mine at full production indicate that the project could potentially yield, at most, 0.4% of Nevada County jobs. Clearly, reopening the Idaho-Maryland Mine would have little positive effect on the recession locally. And if other more desirable employers leave the area because of the mine, and tourists and buyers stay away because of heavy truck traffic 24/7 and air pollution, then the presence of an industrial hardrock mine in Grass Valley would result in a net job loss.
Why would we risk our town’s future by opening a huge cyanidation gold mine anywhere near our water supplies, our homes, our businesses, our schools, our hospital? Fools might, but our City Council and planning staff must look behind the curtain, do their homework, and take a rational, independent view. When they do that, they’ll get busy attracting industries that will not wreck our town in exchange for a few temporary jobs.
Everyone with an interest in this issue should take the time to become fully informed by reading the draft environmental impact report (DEIR), the consultant reports, the public comments, and Emgold’s latest project description. All of these documents are available to the public, and they make a strong case against opening a hardrock gold mine within city limits. Further, the most recent independent audit of Emgold’s financial statements posted on Emgold’s own website points to “material uncertainties” concerning Emgold’s ability to continue as a going concern, specifically the lack of adequate operating funds, no proof of economically recoverable reserves, and low stock price.
After more than two years of delays in submitting a revised project description, Emgold is now asking the city for another open-ended extension to try to drum up the funding for the revised DEIR, and to demonstrate that the company has the ability to honor any of the many promises it has made to the City of Grass Valley.
Some in our community may not like that local citizens have organized against re-opening the Idaho-Maryland mine, but a close look at the economics of hardrock gold mining within city limits raises many alarms and hard questions that are not answered by Emgold’s self-interested spin, or the current price of gold, or the potential benefit/loss to investors.
Bolstering Grass Valley’s economy in the short and long-term requires a much broader perspective and a forward view. The past is not our future.
J. Pelton is a homeowner in Grass Valley.