How to Keep Mine Compliant?

The laws governing corporations are on the books. Unfortunately, enforcement of most laws is by "complaint only" in Nevada County. How then, will Rise Gold's compliance be assured if the Idaho-Maryland Mine is re-opened?


Read it in the Union.

There are a number of problems associated with the proposed reopening of the Idaho-Maryland Mine. Among these are noise pollution, air pollution, traffic congestion, contamination of our streams, and loss of our wells.


Rise Gold denies that some of these exist, and says that it can mitigate the effect of others, to keep them within statutory limits.


When mining was the major activity in Grass Valley and the surrounds, miners dug holes, dumped the resulting piles of rock wherever it was convenient, used mercury, cyanide and other toxic elements to extract the gold and left the toxic remains scattered over the landscape.


Today, as the society has become more aware of the dangers of these toxins, strict laws controlling their use and disposal have been enacted. The same is true of other activities occurring in mining, as well as in other businesses: noise, traffic, other toxins in air and water, and the like. Limits have been set, and penalties for infringing on those limits have been established.


Corporate behavior, however, is much like human behavior, and much as some individuals find it more convenient to dump their trash on the roadside, many profit driven corporations have little incentive to go the extra mile to ensure that their impact on their surroundings is minimal or non-existent.


The number of corporations that go out of their way to improve the community in which they exist is a rare topic for a newspaper article. Unfortunately, the number of articles written about the environmental and human damage done by industries associated with mining, logging, and oil and gas extraction are too numerous to catalog.


The laws governing these activities are on the books. Unfortunately, enforcement of those laws is by complaint in Nevada County. Who, then will complain about violations more subtle than traffic and noise, things like water and air pollution?


Rise Gold is asking the county for a permit to operate a gold mine in the center of a residential community for 80 years. Should that permit be granted, there are no constraints to the mine then being sold to the highest bidder.


In order to prevent a catastrophic result, Rise Gold should be required to address how, specifically, it will deal with each issue which arises in the Environmental Impact Report. It should be required to address how it will respond to each possibility should things not go as planned, and it should be required to post bond against the failure to meet the obligations it has assumed, and against cleanup after the end of 80 years or if the project fails at some future point.


Accidents will happen, especially over a period of 80 years. The county needs to set limits on what level of compliance is acceptable and needs to establish a penalty structure which ensures that paying repeated penalties for violating the same regulation does not become simply a cost of doing business.


The county must also require Rise Gold to establish the means and the funding for an independent agency to monitor each of the mitigation topics under consideration. The county has neither the manpower nor the resources to do this, but it is the only way in which the owners of the mine, whoever they may be in the future, can be kept in compliance with the terms of the permit for the next 80 years.


Robert Hubbard lives in Grass Valley.


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