Given the history of Rise Gold's CEO and the company itself, two key questions remain that cast significant doubt on the entire venture.
This opinion piece was originally published in The Union.
July 11, 2023
Maya Angelou said, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”
THE CEO’s HISTORY
In January, 2011, Current Rise Gold CEO Ben Mossman founded the junior mining company Banks Island Gold in Canada and subsequently began mineral exploration for the Yellow Giant gold mine in the remote tribal territory of the Gitxaala [pronounced Kitkatla] Nation on Banks Island in northern BC, Canada. In November of 2012, he put the mine into commercial production.
Because the Canadian government cannot afford to monitor the activities of all the mines that exist in the country, it requires that events which are out of compliance with Canadian mining law be reported by the mine operator. Over the next 3 years, a series of compliance failures, including an overstuffed explosive locker whose doors would not close, a series of toxic waste spills which polluted the shellfish banks and fishing waters of the Gitxaala Nation, numerous safety violations, and ore being processed from an unlicensed site resulted in 2 stop work orders (which the mine failed to honor), and shortly afterwards, a full shutdown order in July, 2015.
In Jan, 2016, Banks Island Gold declared Bankruptcy. The reclamation bond posted was far from sufficient to repair the harm. Mossman walked away and left taxpayers holding the bag for the damages, the Gitxaala Nation’s food supply damaged, and employers and suppliers unpaid.
THE COMPANY HISTORY
Mining companies fall into two categories: major mining companies and junior mining companies. Junior mining companies explore for minerals and attempt to find funding to mine them. They are famous for mining investors, rather than minerals.
The junior mining company now known as Rise Gold was originally incorporated on Feb. 9, 2007 under the name Atlantic Resources, and has a checkered history. Over the next 9 years, the company bought mineral rights, attracted investors, failed to realize a profit and acquired new CEOs, changing the name of the company a number of times.
On August 1, 2016, seven months after bankrupting in Canada, Ben Mossman was named as CEO of the former Atlantic Resources, changing the name to Rise Gold. He then acquired the Idaho-Maryland Mine property on Aug 30, 2016 for $2,000,000. He applied to the county for a permit to reopen the Idaho-Maryland Mine, and the events which followed are local history.
On July 7, 2023 Mossman was found personally guilty of 13 of the 23 charges of environmental crimes he has been fighting in Canadian courts since 2015. Although the prosecution was unable to prove that Mossman was ‘directly responsible’ for the other 10 charges, he was CEO at the time. Ultimate responsibility for the actions of his company stop at his desk. Read more in the article: Rise Gold’s CEO found guilty on 13 counts in British Columbia retrial…
TWO IMPORTANT QUESTIONS
Although numerous problems with reopening the Mine have been thoroughly discussed, there are two important questions that I feel have been left out of that discussion.
First, who will watch the watchers? Neither the State of California, nor Nevada County has the resources to independently monitor compliance with the air, water, mine waste and noise standards of this operation. Like in Canada, Rise Gold will need to be self-reporting. We have seen how well that worked in Canada. Should the mine reopen, the County should require from Rise Gold sufficient funds to pay for mining operation compliance to be monitored 24/7 by a County environmental scientist/engineer for the duration of the mine’s operation.
Second, Rise Gold’s big claims to benefit the County are the jobs it is offering, and the money its employees will bring to the area. However, Rise also says (to set our minds at rest around its operations) that it uses the most modern mining methods. But the most modern mining methods include automated mining, where robotic machines replace human workers. Keep in mind that it was only 54 years between the Wright Bros flight and astronauts landing on the moon. How long will human labor be working the mine, should it open? How long will those jobs last?
My suggestion to the Board of Supervisors: Ben Mossman has shown us who he is. Believe him.
Robert Hubbard, Grass Valley