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Opinion - David Brownstein: Mining Misinformation

Local community member, David Brownstein, hopes our County Supervisors can sort out fact from fiction.

 

I have long been concerned about the erosion of our democracy by the predominance of misinformation. It was bad enough when marketing of products was infused ad nauseum with false ads to sell us everything from bicycles to bath mats. But over the last decade the corruption has moved ever more into the political arena with a suffocating force.


And now the clouds of misinformation are striking too close to home. I am speaking of – no surprise here – Rise Gold’s (aka Rise Grass Valley’s) proposed Idaho-Maryland Mine. Of late, throughout the media, we see the same promotional ads touting “Environmentally Responsible Mining.” Really? It’s time for some fact checks.

  • Rise Gold claims “Environmentally Responsible Mining,” but the project operations will generate over 9000 tons per year of unmitigated Greenhouse Gas emissions for up to 80 years.

  • Rise claims “Sustainable Mining for a Greener Future.” By definition mining is not sustainable, since it consumes and damages resources without replacing them...then the ore runs out and the mine closes.

  • Proposing to “reinitiate underground mining...” after “...50 years of closure.” is a failure to get even the basic math right on a project that shut down in 1956.

  • The Rise ads claim the “state-of-the-art facilities ensure that our initiatives won’t disturb the neighbors” but fails to mention that this project will dump mine waste into huge piles near housing, spreading, blending, grading, compacting the sand tailings and waste rock, creating noise, dust, and an eyesore, and for 80 years haul trucks will be passing by on average every 10 minutes.

  • According to independent studies, most of the mine jobs will go to out-of-area experienced miners. For anyone local who is seeking a job, be aware that even Rise Gold’s own documents show at least 3 years before operations start, and any realistic analysis of the project puts it at more like 6-8 years.

  • The project will hurt local real estate values and tourism will suffer.

  • Rise uses the euphemism “Engineered Fill” for their mine waste, which is waste rock and fine sand tailings. They plan to sell it! There is no real market for mine waste, which must be sold as “Restricted Materials” due to asbestos. Rise may not even be allowed to ship it off-site due to arsenic and other contaminants, leaving the mine with no ability of operate.

  • Rise has not provided any valid evidence to support the question in their survey: “Did you know that the majority of Nevada County residents support the reopening of the Idaho Mine?” Rise poses several similar clever questions about what people know...not about what is true...to influence the reader.

  • Rise asks “Will the mine negatively impact Nevada County’s air quality?” and then doesn’t answer the question. The answer is yes. The mine will increase air pollution for 80 years of operation.

  • Rise states “Will the mine accelerate climate change and global warming?” and again doesn’t actually answer the question. The answer is again yes. Comparing emissions with some unknown other projects does not change the reality of using energy equal to more than 5500 homes.

No doubt, the mail-in post cards that are provided by Rise Gold will be used to further their claim that the majority of the county’s residents favor the mine. And for the uninformed, what the promotional ads say sounds so wonderful! How many will support the project based upon those misleading claims? Of course, the problem with selective polls is that mostly the people who favor the project would bother to return the mail in cards, which are sent to Rise first, allowing them to trash the hate mail. So if 50,000 people get the cards and even a few thousand mail them in, what does that really mean? Wouldn’t that mean that 47,000 people don’t support the mine? Think about it.


Our Board of Supervisors are faced with a difficult decision. Let’s hope they can sort out fact from fiction.

 

David Brownstein


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