By Ralph Silberstein - Community Environmental Advocates Foundation
July 25, 2020
Once again Grass Valley has to deal with a Canadian junior mining company trying to open the Idaho-Maryland Mine. Rise Gold Corp’s application to re-open the mine is not yet deemed complete by Nevada County Planning Department, but a review of currently available documents provides a into the nature of the project and the many ways it would impact our community. Here’s just one.
Mining will take place 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at the New Brunswick site at the corner of East Bennett and Brunswick Rd. About 1500 tons of waste rock and tailings will be removed from the mine daily. Of this, 500 tons per day will be mixed with cement to form a paste backfill and re-deposited into the mine. The remaining 1000 tons per day will be loaded and trucked over to the 56 acre former mine site along Idaho-Maryland Road (between De Martini RV Sales and Centennial Drive).
This means that waste rock and tailings from the mine will be transported by trucks making up to 100 round trips per day, 16 hours per day, 7 days per week. There are a lot of residences in that area. To get to the Centennial Drive site, the heavily laden gravel trucks will turn left onto Brunswick Road, pass through the East Bennett Rd intersection and turn onto Whispering Pines Lane to reach Centennial Drive. Then, using bulldozers, graders, and rolling compactors, a mountain of gravel will be formed covering 44 acres up to 70 feet high. A subsequent second mountain of tailings is also planned for on the southern portion of the New Brunswick site along Brunswick Rd. These operations will run for at least 11 years.
Grass Valley has designated the Idaho-Maryland Road site as Business Park and Urban Medium Density Residential, but Rise Gold intends to get this changed to Industrial. Given the housing shortage, and considering the anticipated development of hundreds of homes at Loma Rica Ranch just beyond this site, one might ask why the City of Grass Valley doesn’t just summarily tell the mine to go away now and save a whole lot of trouble. It would be incredibly bad judgment to put a “reverse” gravel quarry at this location just while Loma Rica will be trying to sell homes. Just think, if the proposed Dorsey Marketplace is approved, the 172 units of high end apartments will be built directly above and looking down on this dusty noisy gravel operation as well.
What makes sense is to stick with the Grass Valley General Plan, not allow a rezone. We need to promote a walkable housing and business park community at this close-to-downtown location. It is one of the few places left in our city where this kind of infill development can take place. It would be a bad idea to go with mine waste mountains instead.