A powerhouse panel of community experts reviewed the conclusions of Nevada County's Economic Impact Report in a December 2022 MineWatch meeting. The report was authored by independent consultant, Robert D. Niehaus (RDN).
“A closer examination of the RDN Report leaves a lot of room for questioning their conclusions, said CEA Foundation President, Ralph Silberstein. [The webinar's] panelists found that the numbers were overly optimistic, that the real estate estimates were a big miss, and that the possible economic benefits to the community would be overshadowed by a lot of downside risk.”
Read summaries of presenter comments below or click to listen to sections of the presentation. Keep scrolling to see panelist bios, quotes, slides, and related content.
Full presentation (2 hours)
Real Estate - Charlie Brock, Licensed Realtor and past President of the Nevada County Board of Realtors (5:20)
Hear Brock's reaction to the report's dismissal of overwhelming opposition by local real estate agents
Learn why local agents and appraisers predict considerable drops in real estate values
Real Estate Case Studies & Webinar Summary - Martin Webb, KVMR Radio Host, Business Owner, and Solar Expert (30:25)
Take a visual journey comparing neighborhoods around the three mines used in the study vs. ours
Learn why this project is unprecedented in its lack of readiness, inflated claims, and proximity to homes
PROJECT UPDATE & READINESS ASSESSMENT
Project Update - Ralph Silberstein, President, CEA Foundation (5:45)
Learn about where things stand in the fight against the mine
Learn about the parts of the report that corrected some of Rise Gold's most outrageous claims
Industry Perspective - Dr. David Chambers, Founder/President, Center for Science in Public Participation (19:36)
Learn about the Idaho-Maryland Mine project's level of "readiness" as defined by the mining industry
Learn why "gold reserves" used for high end estimates of tax revenues aren't proven/certified
EMPLOYMENT & RISKS
Employment, Economic Impact, & Risks - James Steinmann, Founder, Steinmann Facility, Planning and Project Management (16:51)
Learn why Steinmann asserts that the economic report is "in no way conclusive"
Learn why Steinmann believes that 58% of Rise Gold's workforce would be commuters, rather than 32%
REVENUE & SPENDING
Revenue & Spending Impacts - John Vaughan, CIO PRIDE Industries, retired (11:56)
Learn about economic modeling software limitations and how revenue results can appear inflated when combined with questionable data from the applicant
Learn how the cost of risks, such as catastrophic events and health consequences, weren't included
Questions and Answers with Panelists (15:46)
Panelists answer audience questions
Introduction - Moderator, Greg Thrush introduces the session (Run time = 3:21)
January is Critical for Action - Traci Sheehan - Organizer, CEA Foundations (1:17)
A key priority in January is to review and comment on the Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR)
The County has yet to announce the date of their public meeting on the FEIR. Watch for it.
Ralph Silberstein, President, CEA Foundation
Ralph Silberstein is the President of the Community Environmental Advocates Foundation. Ralph served as a Grass Valley Planning Commissioner and on the Nevada County Fish and Wildlife Commission. He is a retired software engineer, business owner, and former building contractor. With 20 years of experience working on mining issues, he is an invaluable resource in the MineWatch campaign.
Dr. David Chambers, Founder and President of the Center for Science in Public Participation
David Chambers is the founder and president of the Center for Science in Public Participation, a non-profit corporation formed to provide technical assistance on mining and water quality to public interest groups and tribal governments.
Dr. Chambers has 45 years of experience in mineral exploration and development – 15 years of technical and management experience in the mineral exploration industry, and for the past 30 years he has served as an advisor on the environmental effects of mining projects both nationally and internationally. He has Professional Engineering Degree in physics from the Colorado School of Mines, a Master of Science Degree in geophysics from the University of California at Berkeley, and is a registered professional geophysicist in California (# GP 972). Dr. Chambers received his Ph.D. in environmental planning at Berkeley. His recent research focuses on tailings dam failures, and the intersection of science and technology with public policy and natural resource management; financial assurance for mine closure and post-closure; and, the water impacts of mining.
James Steinmann, Founder, Steinmann Facility, Planning and Project Management
Jim Steinmann is a resident of Grass Valley and founder of his Facility, Planning and Project Management Firm. He has 55 years of experience as a Planning Consultant for large-scale development projects. The vast majority of the projects included analyses of alternatives, environmental impacts, and economic evaluations of alternative courses of action. Three of the projects Jim participated in are particularly relevant to the proposed gold mine activation.
John Vaughan, CIO PRIDE Industries, retired
John Vaughn has been a resident of Nevada County since 1967. His water is served by a well approximately 100 yards from the southwest edge of the Rise Gold mineral rights area. He’s served executive roles at various for-profit and non-profit industries including at Grass Valley Group, Utah Scientific, Precision Printers and PRIDE Industries. He has extensive experience in software development, software selection, business analytics, including profit/loss and cost/benefit studies, acquisition strategies and logistics.
Charlie Brock, Licensed Realtor and past President of the Nevada County Board of Realtors
Charlie Brock has been a licensed Realtor in California for 54 years. He is the past President of the Nevada County Board of Realtors, founding Director of Nevada County United Way, and has served on numerous non-profit boards in Nevada county.
Martin Webb, KVMR Radio Host, Business Owner, and Solar Expert
Martin Webb has been in the renewable energy field for 25 years, as a business owner and solar expert, which translated into a life of environmental activism. Whether producing radio shows on KVMR as the host of “The Climate Report,” or on TV as the host of “Tipping Point,” a new monthly program on Nevada County Media, he has become a well-known voice for environmental awareness around a host of issues, including the proposed mine.
“We are grateful to the County for commissioning an independent economic report, rather than relying solely on the private report produced by Rise Gold”, said Ralph Silberstein, President of CEA Foundation. “It corrected some of Rise Gold’s most outrageous claims. And yet it shares a similar problem with the Draft EIR released earlier this year, relying heavily on information provided by the applicant.”
“While the report has given us some useful data, supervisors may want to take it with a huge grain of salt,” said Silberstein. “In the end, the Supervisors will be left with a single overriding question. Is this report credible enough to use as a justification to dismiss the lengthy list of environmental and financial risks?
Economic Impact & Risks
”This report is in no way conclusive,” stated Jim Steinmann, Founder of Steinmann Facility, Planning and Project Management. ”Benefits to the community are substantially overstated, the costs of operations are understated, and the risks are ignored. For instance, over half the workers would likely be commuters sharing rental housing. Only a fraction of their spending would stay in the county.”
“Economic studies often present an incomplete picture,” stated John Vaughan, CIO PRIDE Industries, retired. “In this case, the software model used is designed to showcase benefits and highlight revenues – it is specifically designed not to show economic risk and real cost. When used in combination with data provided by Rise Gold, many of the economic benefits were unrealistic.”
Real Estate Property Values
“RDN’s assertion that they found ‘no conclusive evidence’ the project would lower property values is a gut-punch for people living close to the mine,” said Charlie Brock, Nevada County Realtor for 54 years. “The report disregards the overwhelming opposition of local real estate experts who believe the mine will have considerable negative effects. It also reveals RDN’s lack of expertise on the subject by creating a custom analysis of three mines that bear almost zero resemblance to our community or situation.”
“The case studies show us that this project is unprecedented,” said Martin Webb, KVMR Radio Host and four-time business owner. “RDN identified three mines that were similar, but none were a good match for our properties, home values or the sheer number of homes in close proximity to the mine.”
“My opinion is that the Niehaus economic report contradicts itself, relies on questionable assumptions and methodologies (they discounted all realtors opinions) in order to arrive at a misleading and faulty conclusion, said Charlie Brock, Nevada County Realtor for 54 years. In my opinion, the reopening of the Idaho-Maryland Mine will have an immediate, long-term, detrimental effect on real estate values in Western Nevada County.”
“The Economic Study failed to implement accepted appraisal methodology that has clearly led to an unsubstantiated conclusion of 'no impact' on value.” “A carefully devised market study that includes comparison of controlled market comparative data and comparative data truly proximal to similarly operating mines -- each being subject to the same market conditions (at the same point in time) -- might have led to a much different conclusion.” Daniel Ketcham, SRA, MAI, SR/WA Designated Member Appraisal Institute & International Right of Way Association, Certified General Appraiser - California (read by Charlie Brock in live presentation).
MORE EXCELLENT CONTENT ON ECONOMICS
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Read the report (PDF)
Watch the recording of the County's webinar (Register to watch)