This local resident shares what he learned about the concerns shared when community experts reviewed the Economic Impact Report for the Idaho-Maryland Mine.
This opinion piece was originally published in The Union.
Jan 20, 2023
Experts review the Economic Impact Report for the proposed Idaho Maryland Mine. The report was prepared by Robert D Niehaus (RDN).
I attended the excellent Webinar discussing the recently released Economic Impact Report for the Idaho Maryland Mine that Community Environmental Advocates Foundation (CEAF) organized on December 20th. A group of very knowledgeable presenters conducted detailed analysis in a number of areas. The amount of information was overwhelming, so this is an attempt to list some, of their concerns — There are many more.
Well monitoring to provide a baseline for the DEIR was a requirement when the most recent San Juan Ridge MIne, also known as the Siskon Mine was approved. A similar requirement must be placed on Rise Gold to ensure that over 300 wells are monitored for at least 3 years.
CEAF is concerned that there are many unanswered questions in the Environmental Impact Report (EIR). Therefore it cannot be considered “Final”.
Dr David Chambers noted that a Technical Report NI 43-101 has not been completed for 5 years. So this is all we have to go on. It showed that there is not enough information to specify any mineral resources and mineral reserves. It is highly unusual to ask for a production permit without these being defined. Dr Chambers claims that he has never seen such a lack of information.
Economic impact of Waste disposal. This is a problem because selling mine waste is difficult due to liability risks. Testing is required, but the current samples are not adequate. Most buyers will be reluctant to buy since there are many lower risk alternatives.
Characterization of mine waste is suspect since It was not tested properly. Distilled water was used instead of the typically used, weak acid solution.
Since there has not been proper testing of mine waste rock. If it could not be sold, where would the 2 million tons in 11 years of mining go?
Financial assurance must be a requirement. It is common that mines have catastrophic events that end up being a burden on the community. We need to be assured that if there is a catastrophic event or the mine closes, it is done properly so there is not an impact to the community. The caveat is that historically, financial assurance, never covers catastrophic events. However there should be enough money put aside to compensate the community in case a catastrophe occurs and the the mine goes bankrupt.
Does anyone seriously believe that there can ever be justification to permit a mine operation for 80 years? There is nothing that would justify this.
Rise claims that it will be 3 years to get to full production. This is contrary to the reality that typically the industry takes 6 — 7 years after the permits are obtained. This will have a huge financial impact and should be seriously considered. Note that the time to get permits was not considered.
The CEAF experts feel that spending patterns of construction and mine workers is overblown. Construction workers will likely be from outside the county, will probably share accommodation and spend much less than expected in the community. Their estimate is that spending would be 1/4 of that claimed.
The cost to mine that Rise Gold is using is 1/2 of the industry average. This is way too optimistic and should have been seriously questioned in the Economic Impact Report.
James Steinmann’s conclusion on the Economic Impact Report: “The input data is questionable, the benefits are substantially overstated, the costs of operation are understated and the risks are ignored”.
Charlie Brock a local Real Estate expert strongly contests the conclusion that there will be no effect on real estate values. The consensus of surveyed agents was that there will be long term detrimental effects.
Another expert estimated that even a small (5-10%) negative impact on tourism plus the impact on property values would be far greater than any positive financial impact that the mine claims. The comparisons with other mines that was used for looking at the impacts on property values was seriously misleading. There were none that had the same housing density, so close to the mine. We have approximately 2000 homes within 1/2 mile from the mine.
Not discussed, but important, is that Economic Impact Reports for other mine operations, commonly include a comparison of the economic impact of alternative uses for the property. This may be an intentional omission since there are likely many other uses for the site that could provide greater benefits, with very much less risk and environmental impact.
What is the estimated cost for installing the infrastructure, construction of buildings, purchase and installation of equipment and excavation down to a point where gold can be extracted? A detailed economic report should include a timeline of expenditures and income to show the breakeven point.
The cost to first cleanup the Centennial Site was not included, but it should be completed to show the true economic picture. The mine intends to dump mine waste rock on this site.
The Remedial Action Plan for the Centennial Site will not be complete until sometime in 2023. Since the use of this site is a major part of the project plan, it seems wrong to move forward until this is finalized.
To see the CEA Webinar go to: “The Other Side of the Story”
You are encouraged to write your concerns to your supervisor and attend Planning Commission and Supervisors meetings. Look for public meeting dates, your participation is important.
Ray Bryars, Nevada City.