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The Union | Don Rogers: Mine’s main ore is risk

Want to know where things stand in the proposal to reopen the Idaho-Maryland Mine? The Union's newspaper's publisher sums it up. Don discusses what the community would gain compared to the risks it would assume if the mine was reopened.

Here are a few excerpts. Read the full column in The Union.


If Rise Gold continues on its titanic quest, the county supervisors eventually will have to consider the iceberg.

I realized this recently while one of the opponents of the proposal to reopen the Idaho-Maryland Mine, John Vaughan, took me through a critique of the company’s sunny sales pitch about jobs and all those millions of dollars surely rippling outward from an operating mine.

The company’s early pattern is to exaggerate benefits, as the opponents’ is to take the bleakest view.

Meantime, the county awaits the results of its own economic study, due out anytime now. This will be the next step, the next run of the gantlet toward a decision, the next battle.

I wonder whether real flesh-and-blood local supporters will finally come out of hiding to buttress the strongest case for the mine. If a boxing match, Round 1 was nearly a knockout for opponents, who rose in real numbers to decry the draft environmental impact report’s results with the county Planning Commission.

But Rise still seems to be tottering along, and so the process continues as the CEO preps for perhaps his final criminal trial over his previous mine with the spill that went bankrupt and he abandoned in Canada. No jobs there in years.


Buoyant factors for the community’s benefit are exclusively economic: jobs, tax revenue.

Risk factors span economic, environmental, the gold business, quality of monitoring, regulatory enforcement, ability to clean up accidents, those wells, the history of the CEO, the company itself, the odds of reality proving modeling wrong.

Some risks weigh heavier than others, of course, and elements such as heavy truck traffic around the mine, carbon emissions and impact on immediate neighbors are not risks but certainties.

There might be some argument about promises to clean up a nearly century-old tailings heap and establishing a fire station at the mine, but are those benefits or simply what’s required? Which raises the question of what should be required of the mine owners to balance against the various risks inherent in the proposal.

Given that, the prospects look far from unsinkable and the reward dubious for the real impact on just the neighbors, never mind the sheer weight of all the risks. Yes, iceberg fits.


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