Request for Economic Study of Mine Impacts

By Ralph Silberstein - Community Environmental Advocates Foundation

August 17, 2020


To:

Nevada County Board of Supervisors

Eric Rood Administration Center 950 Maidu Avenue

Nevada City, CA 95959

bdofsupervisors@co.nevada.ca.us


Dear Nevada County Board of Supervisors,


The permit application for the proposed opening of the Idaho-Maryland Mine in Grass Valley is currently in the scoping phase, with comments due by August 17. We at Community Environmental Advocates Foundation (CEA Foundation) have been hastily reviewing the project and are submitting comments. However, it has come to our attention that there is no economic study proposed for the review process. As you well know, this project lies within the Sphere of Influence of Grass Valley; i.e. the project is ‘in Grass Valley” and is surrounded by local businesses and residential neighborhoods. Given the significant impact that one would expect from a project of this magnitude, there has been a wave of concern about the economic and aesthetic impacts that will result from this mine opening. Quite frankly, our email in box has been flooded with letters of concern.


We are faced with the prospect of the serene rural residential area around the Brunswick site having a large ore processing facility and extensive gravel operations plopped down in its center. Already there are reports of residential real estate values dropping just on the potential that this project might be approved.[1] Several residents in the area have already indicated they will sell their homes and move out.


Some of the economic impacts of concern:

  • Negative impacts on the Real Estate Industry.

  • Several retail businesses along Idaho-Maryland Road have expressed concern that it will hurt their business.

  • High tech companies have struggled to attract qualified workers and the natural setting and small town charm have given them some good selling points in the past. The adjacent tailings piles could ruin that.

  • Heavy truck traffic and mine employee traffic along Brunswick Rd will be challenging our infrastructure.

  • Local air pollution will be exacerbated by the mine, impacting the health of residents.

  • The potential loss of wells due to impacts on ground water from the mine can irreparably hurt businesses and residences alike. There are 900 parcels sitting over the mineral rights of the Idaho-Maryland Mine, with an estimated 300 wells that could be damaged.

  • Tax revenue may be decreased due to lagging property values.

  • Financial risks to the county due to mine failure and/or insufficient bonds.[2]


Granted, there may be new jobs. Unfortunately, most of the jobs require mining related skills, so there will have to be an influx of people to fill that. In the long run, will the number of jobs in our area actually increase, or will the other impacts and loss of small businesses create a net job loss?


There will be a lot of construction initially, but will the loss of construction in the housing market due to depressed prices result in a new long term loss of construction jobs and less new housing? And at some point, as always, the mine will close and we will be left with the pieces. Given the financial risks of the industry, this could be after 1 year, 10 years, or longer. It is unknown.


These are all very important questions that should be answered before this project is placed before you for consideration. It is for that reason that we strongly urge you to include an economic study in the Idaho-Maryland Mine permitting analysis.


Thank you,

Ralph Silberstein, President CEA Foundation


[1] A local resident conducted an informal survey of well known and large volume realtors in the area and asked for their professional opinion as to the impact. He contacted multiple local realtors with multiple firms. 100% of them agreed it would have a negative impact on values. A well know realtor at Century 21 said that in her professional opinion that “reopening the mine depending on the property, could reduce values near the mine by from $50,000 to $100,000 or more”. Others estimated the reduction in terms of 20% to 25% or more. A realtor at Coldwell Banker said “While it would impact the properties close to the mine the most, it would negatively impact all property values in the area. I’ve had multiple potential buyers decide not to purchase here at all when they learned the mine could reopen”. “The same home in a nice area compared to one next to a railroad track would have far different values. No one wants to live next to a mine” said another agent. “The most important factors in values are “location, location, location. Next to a mine is not a good location”, several others stated. Another realtor told us “We had a property in escrow recently, but the sale fell through when the buyer found out that the mine could reopen”. (Contact information available upon request.)


[2] Robert Clark, retired Grass Valley resident, former Grass Valley Branch Manager of Wachovia Securities and former CEO of a registered Broker/Dealer, expressed serious concerns about the financial viability of Rise Gold Corporation and the risk of working with them. “The failure rate of “penny stock” companies like Rise Gold is almost 100%. They aren’t even regulated like other companies.”



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