Walt Froloff: Rise Gold’s proposal is a scam

It’s old, it’s cold, it’s gold! That’s what this is all about, money for the out-of-range rich and snake oil salesmen, I believe.


Even before reading the draft environmental impact report, most will conclude that for Nevada County to even consider reviving a mining project in Grass Valley is on its face strange and repugnant.


Strange because to open such an ecologically, economically, community, culturally, and socially disruptive business tortures common sense.


Repugnant because it makes no business logic from any position, save the one where proponents raise money, enrich themselves and then flee the country, leaving investors and the people of Grass Valley to clean up potentially enormous damage and harm.


As you may know, this scenario played out on a much smaller scale in Canada, where the CEO of Rise Gold with a different company conceived this practice and I think could be a dress rehearsal for here.


Perhaps the Board of Supervisors should take a field trip to any of the public gold mine parks for a look into the past. Keep in mind that gold mine closings happened when regulations were non-existent. The mines were closed down then because they became unprofitable. That was when the costs were only considered for the owner’s profitability, not inclusive of the true costs. Back then, owners could just take the money and run, and some did.


Today one needs to consider issues such as large wildfires, climate change creating challenges to energy uses and power outages, fire ignition and control, mass population evacuations, dry wells, hazardous waste disposal, toxicity to the environment and containment of contamination, population density increases, regulatory requirements, winds carrying toxic dust from exposed tailing, etc., etc.


It is well known that Rise Gold is undercapitalized. I think county money should be spent seriously investigating Rise Gold and the proponents of reopening the Idaho-Maryland Mine.


The draft environmental impact report reads to me like a high school report, liberally sprinkling general policy and motherhood edicts from various public agencies, drawing sweeping economic issues under the “volunteer cleanup” action, playing a corporate entity isolation game to disable the chain of liability and slip under regulatory controls.


The most egregious violation is the absence of any real cost analysis for any of the worst-case scenarios that must be addressed.


To be fair, to even think for one second that an environmental impact report will or even can address all of the issues is absurd. This entire reopening for a few “high paying” community jobs? Absurd. The gold mines were no longer profitable 50-plus years ago and at a time when hardly any of the true costs were addressed in the economics calculation. Today, I don’t believe there is enough gold in the entire United States that can pay for this potential Chernobyl and EPA superfund site.


Financially speaking, Rise Gold is grossly undercapitalized and is dangling the jobs carrot — laughable. The only jobs created by the Idaho-Maryland Mind reopening proposal are the county government jobs to evaluate the proposal.


We the citizens will remember how our tax money was spent and how quickly our government leaders jumped to jeopardize the community. And how they failed to remember the gold mine reopening debacle in San Juan just a few miles north and a few years back. Where is common sense?


Walt Froloff lives in Grass Valley.


 

This opinion piece was originally published in The Union.


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