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Patricia Sharp: Save our town

This Grass Valley resident shares a piece of local history regarding the huge costs and hurdles of the Magenta Drain which handles runoff from the historic Empire Mine.

This opinion piece was originally published in The Union.


I live in town in Grass Valley, not far from Empire Mine State Park. For the 20 years I’ve lived in this house, I’ve walked there four days a week. Anyone who uses the park is familiar with the Magenta Drain. It serves to filter out the heavy metals that accumulated in the mine water. An expenditure of over $2 million dollars created a natural filtration system that removes 60-70% of the metals out of the water.

The process to clean up that site has been a long and winding one. Newmont, the previous mine owners didn’t want to pay for the underground cleanup. A lawsuit ensued in July of 2012; the State of California sued Newmont Mining to reimburse the State for the $36 million dollars it already spent remediating the toxic waste. The suit included all future responsibility for the cleanup. Newmont ended up settling with California State Parks for $15 million and the cost of ongoing and future costs for cleanup. The ordeal and expense of toxic mine waste cleanup even prompted talk from a couple of state legislators to suggest selling the 850-acre State Historic Park.

The point I want to make is that industrial hardrock mining is a dirty, toxic business. So dirty and toxic that no one wants to foot the cleanup bill. It is most certainly not something that should be done in a populated area. There will be tons and tons of toxic soils trucked out, through town, spewing diesel exhaust, toxic dust floating around, impeding traffic, not to mention all the homes nearby that might lose their well water.

Right out front, the owners of Rise Gold are not trustworthy. Quoting from Bob and Christy Hubbard, in The Union Newspaper opinion piece / Dec. 7, 2020, “CEO Ben Mossman’s last venture before joining Rise Gold was a profound failure, and disregard for regulations and poor management practices appear to have played a significant role in that. His company, Banks Island Gold Ltd., owned the Yellow Giant Mine in British Columbia, Canada, which polluted tribal waters, went bankrupt and left Canadians with a mess to clean up”.

An industrial mining operation has no business being in the middle our beloved Grass Valley. The potential degradation to our town combined with the management record of Rise Gold should lead you, our Nevada County Supervisors, to vote NO on reopening the Idaho-Maryland Mine. Let’s not foul our nest anymore.

Patricia Sharp

Grass Valley


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