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John Vaughan, The mine: It’s not about economics, it’s about risk

This opinion piece was originally published in The Union.

 

April 19. 2023

Since the beginning of 2022, like many other local people, I’ve spent a LOT of time studying the environmental and economic reports for the proposed Idaho-Maryland Mine. I’ve spoken to the primary author of the economic report and made comments to Planning Commissioners and Supervisors. I’ve participated as a panelist at the MineWatch Community Review of the County’s Economic Impact Report. Click this link for the video (http://bit.ly/MW-Economic-Review).


In short, I’ve had a great deal of time to think about what Rise Gold’s mine proposal is really about – and what’s it’s NOT about.


The issues with Rise Gold’s proposal ARE NOT ABOUT:


  • Whether Rise’s production, revenue and cost estimates have any basis in current, provable measurements or industry standards (they do not).

  • Whether the consultant who prepared the Economic Report did a good job (they did…but critical parts of the input came from Rise Gold).

  • Whether our elected representatives and the people who work at Nevada County are doing their jobs and care about this community (they are and they do).

  • Whether there would be some economic benefit (there may be, although best case the benefits are half of what is projected in the Economic Report and there is no consideration of risks).

  • Whether the economic reports include all the costs or the cost of risk (they do not).

  • Whether the Rise Gold profits shown in the Economic Report are overstated which inflates County benefits (they are and they do).

  • Whether some of the Final Environmental Impact Report (EIR) responses demonstrate a bias towards Rise Gold (they do).

The issues with Rise’s proposal ARE ABOUT what RISK we, and our elected representatives, are willing to accept in trade for jobs and County revenue.


Over 5,500 individuals and 250 business owners signed petitions and/or wrote letters to the Supervisors opposing the mine. 95% of the letters and opinions pieces on the topic in The Union newspaper have been opposed to the mine. The vast majority of the opposition to the Rise Gold proposal are thoughtful people who have done their homework, who care about this community and are committed to a better future outcome than what Rise proposes.


If you study the EIR and the Economic Reports you will find risks related to toxic mine waste, air and water pollution, well drawdown, property values, traffic, and many others. You will find the cost of those risks are not included in the economic analysis.


You will find that local jobs, local spending and County revenue are inflated based solely on assumptions provided by Rise Gold.


Are we willing to take the risks for 80 years?


In trade for the possibility of more jobs and more County revenue: Are we willing to accept that some toxins may leak into our streams or water supply? Or a few wells go dry? Or that property values for many homeowners will go down? Or a few of our children or grandchildren or great grandchildren may have lung issues from “fugitive” asbestos dust? Or that County revenue will not even come close to the cost of fixing any number of potential environmental catastrophes? Or that local prices and housing costs will go up for everyone not working at the mine as a direct result of Rise’s inflated salaries?


Don’t be fooled by wild claims of economic benefits and jobs and proposed mitigations. The data provided by Rise is designed to sell their story. It is not designed to show the facts.


Please contact your Nevada County Supervisor and demand they “Just Say NO” to the Final EIR and the Rise Gold proposal. This link provides a set of facts and an easy way to submit a letter: https://www.minewatchnc.org/send-a-letter


John Vaughan, Grass Valley

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