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    • FAQ: Idaho-Maryland Mine

      By Community Environmental Advocates Foundation Idaho-Maryland Mine Frequently-Asked Questions What is the mine reopening proposal? Rise Gold, a junior mining company with questionable experience, submitted an application to restart mining operations at the old Idaho-Maryland Mine in Grass Valley. Initially, the mine will be dewatered and some operational structure will be built on the surface. Then, underground development will begin. The permit application describes a drill and blast regime to remove 1,500 tons of rock per day, operating 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for the 80-year life of the project. The main processing facilities will be on the corner of Brunswick Rd and E. Bennett. Mine operations would create approximately 2.4 million cubic yards of mining tailings and rock waste deposited at two locations. An additional site will be located closer to downtown Grass Valley at the old Idaho-Maryland Mine location along Idaho Maryland Rd. What are the potential impacts of the mine? Even using the most current mining technologies and techniques, gold mining is an inherently high-risk venture with potentially negative impacts. Chief among them are concerns about water quality and quantity due to mine dewatering, significantly higher levels of noise and vibration impacting local residents, truck traffic, and increased levels of dust and industrial emissions that impact air quality locally and contribute to greenhouse gases. The prospect of replacing open forested areas with two huge mining waste piles threatens local wildlife and quality of life for neighbors. Neighbors also may have impacts to wells and lowered property values. Read more about the top 8 reasons to stop the Idaho-Maryland Mine. Where is the mine? Do the mineral rights extend beyond the borders of the site? The mine would be located at two sites; the Brunswick Industrial Site is 119 acres, at the junction of East Bennett Street and Brunswick Road and along Brunswick Rd. This is where the ore processing facilities and mine access shafts are planned. The second, 56-acre Centennial site, which was the site of the old Idaho-Maryland Mine and processing facilities, is along Idaho-Maryland Rd, east of Centennial Drive. Map of mining site locations As shown in the map below, the underground mineral rights cover a huge area, about 2585 acres. These mineral rights extend west under Highway 49 and completely under Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital, east of Brunswick Road under the Nevada County Airpark, north as far as Plaza Drive in Glenbrook Basin, and to Highway 174 and much of Cedar Ridge. The subterranean mining operations can potentially include all of this area and to within 200 feet of the surface. Map showing mining site boundaries (red) and mineral rights boundaries (orange) Who is the lead agency in the government? Nevada County Planning Department is the lead agency preparing the EIR (Environmental Impact Report) pursuant to CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act) guidelines. Raney Planning & Management, Inc. is the consulting firm selected by Nevada County Supervisors to provide expert analysis and draft the EIR. Multiple Nevada County and City of Grass Valley departments will review the work in progress and draft EIR submittals including Planning, Engineering, Transportation, Environmental Health, Fire Departments, and County Sheriff, and outside agencies such as Fish and Wildlife. How does the decision process work? Once Nevada County Planning determines an EIR (Environment Impact Report) is required, they need to prepare a scope of work based on the applicant’s (Rise Gold’s) project description and submittals. A consulting firm is selected to complete the EIR. County Planning prepares a NOP (Notice of Preparation) to inform the community about the project. Included in the NOP is information about the location, project description, an issues list and brief description of each, and details about the project’s operational profile. The NOP gives the community a minimum of 30 days to review the project and identify issues and concerns that need to be addressed by the consultant during the EIR process and in the final document. These comments are reviewed by the lead agency and handed off to the consultant. The ADEIR (Administrative Draft EIR) is prepared for review by the lead agency (review is typically 90 days), their comments and requests lead to a Draft EIR. The DEIR is published and is made available for public comments for at least 45 days. Public hearings are generally held by the Planning Commission at this stage. All of the comments from the public have to be addressed and all the questions answered. Changes based on comments may then be made to the DEIR by the consultant to produce the Final EIR. The Final DEIR again undergoes County Departments review, Planning Department review, and Planning Commission Hearings, and Board of Supervisor Hearings. The Board of Supervisors ultimately vote on whether to approve the project. How will the mine impact our local creeks and rivers? At the Brunswick site, the first sixth months of mining operations would include “dewatering” the abandoned mine shafts by pumping 3.6 million gallons of water daily into South Fork Wolf Creek. Once the mine is dewatered, 1.2 to 3.6 million gallons per day (1.9 to 5.6 cfs) will be pumped from the underground workings to maintain the dewatered state. Before discharging into the creek, the water would need to be treated to remove the metal contaminants. This water treatment facility will have to operate in perpetuity to prevent the discharge of contaminated water, even after the mine closes in 80 years. These high, artificial water discharges into the creek will disrupt the natural flow regime in the creek, disturbing the life cycles of the organisms that sustain the ecology of this riparian corridor. It should be noted that it is not possible to predict the full effect that dewatering will have on the underground hydrology in the vicinity with absolute certainty. This includes nearby wells, the creek, riparian zones, and subterranean groundwater. How will the mine impact air quality? Nevada County already gets and "F" for air quality today. Mining operations would produce additional exhaust emissions from trucks and equipment, and dust from ore processing operations, trucking, grading, and compacting of the “engineered fill” as mine waste rock and tailings are deposited at the two planned locations. Air pollution from the chemical discharges associated with mining activities are anticipated. There will be impacts from the use of ammonium nitrate, the explosive used to blast new shafts and tunnels through the bedrock to develop the mine workings. Significant greenhouse gas emissions will be generated by the mine because tremendous amounts of energy are used to extract tons of rock from depths up to 5000 feet below surface level and pulverize them to extract the ore. Arsenic is a naturally occurring mineral of the subterranean rock of this area. Mine tailings and waste rock brought to the surface for processing and disposal will result in arsenic being released into the air as fine dust particles. The most common exposure pathways for humans are through water and air. Other contaminant emissions from the prior contaminated soils on the site are also of concern. Many people in the area live on wells. How will the mine impact water quality and quantity? Since the closure of the Idaho-Maryland Mine in 1956, residential neighborhoods have developed around the site. There are approximately 300 homes within a 1000-foot radius of the mineral rights boundary area that rely on wells to supply their water. The geology of this area contains networks of fractures and faults in the rock that fill with water and provide water to local wells. The recent experience of the local San Juan Ridge Mine demonstrated that mining can have unpredictable consequences for wells near its operations. Should wells fail or become contaminated as a result of mining activity, affected households would have to connect to another water supplier, most likely NID. The impacts and scope of this problem are unknown. Rise Gold’s own hydrology study identifies about 200 wells that are predicted to have a drop in ground water levels, and this study has a number of shortcomings. How will the mine impact noise and vibration in the area? Construction of the above ground facilities will last for 18 months. Unregulated construction noise may occur 7 days a week for the duration of the construction. Once mining operations commence, underground blasting and mining operations will continue 24 hours a day for 80 years. Vibration from heavy equipment operations, blasting and other mining activities, will transmit through the ground to nearby residences. Haul trucks will transport rock between the New Brunswick mine access shaft and processing site on East Bennet to the Centennial site. This will increase traffic and noise along Brunswick Rd and Whispering Pines Blvd. Grading and compacting with heavy equipment will occur on both sites. How will the mine affect traffic? Waste rock and tailings haul trucks will make up to 100 roundtrips a day, 7 days a week, from 6:00 AM to 10:00 PM which equates to about one heavy truck passing every 10 minutes all day, every day. The trucks will use Brunswick Rd to reach Whispering Pines lane and to access Hwy 49. Additional truck trips will transport fuel oil, diesel fuel, explosives, large amounts of cement for backfill, and other supplies, as well as gold mining concentrate transported out of the area for further processing. Mine operations would entail two shifts a day for 300 workers travelling from and to the Brunswick site. The safety hazards from heavy haul truck traffic during winter conditions and destruction of local roads from the heavy haul truck traffic are of concern. How will the mine affect real estate/ property values? “Projects with unknowns like mining projects hurt values. Perception becomes reality.” (Local real estate agent, 8/3/2020) The projected impacts associated with the Rise Gold Idaho-Maryland Mine (IMM) and the Centennial Mine Cleanup projects include noise, dust, and dewatering of the mine into Wolf Creek. This could impact water tables and well performance. In addition, the project description notes up to 100 dump truck loads daily from the IMM to the Centennial site. Questions regarding impacts to homeowners and their property could lead to weakness in property values. When another mining company proposed to reopen IMM between 2005 and 2012, new homes near the proposed site saw a dramatic value decline. How can the public be involved? These are ways residents can be involved. Get informed and keep updated about the proposed mine. Visit Subscribe to our eNewsletter Follow us on our public Facebook page Join our members-only Facebook group (for people who want to learn, share, and take action) Browse articles, videos, and meeting recordings in the MineWatchNC Library. View research and summary documents at the CEA Foundation website. View the mine application documents are available at the County website. A good place to start is the summary document. Share what you’re learning about the mine with others. The more public attention this proposal receives, the more the application process will reflect the interests and concerns of the people who must live with the decision the County makes about the mine. A good way to get shareable news is to follow us on our public Facebook page. Influence the decision-making process. Read the guide about how to submit public comments to the Nevada County Board of Supervisors. How do changes in zoning to allow mining impact the nature of the surrounding community? The current zoning at the Brunswick Industrial Site is M1-SE, Light Industrial. Rise Gold has requested a zoning change to M1-ME Light Industrial with Mineral Extraction to allow for surface mining facilities related to the underground mining operations. Numerous buildings are planned, covering 122,000 feet. Many of the structures planned are large, including a 6-story tall 425’ long mineral processing facility along Brunswick Rd, and a headframe structure reaching 16 stories tall. Properties surrounding the Brunswick Industrial Site are zoned RA-1 to RA-5 and are primarily residential. Many parcels overlook the proposed site and may be significantly impacted by noise and dust generated at the site. Since the mine will operate 24/7, 365 days/year, this could have consequences for livability and property values in the area. Properties surrounding the Centennial Site are Commercial/Industrial, Business Park, and undeveloped Medium Density Residential designation. Anticipated heavy truck traffic of up to 100 roundtrips per day to the Brunswick Industrial Site would significantly impact this area. The City of Grass Valley has the Centennial Site in its near-term annexation plan. The County’s Industrial zoning classification for the Centennial Site on Idaho-Maryland Rd, is inconsistent with the Grass Valley Zoning designation of Business Park and Medium Density housing. The mine project’s level of cleanup for planned mine waste deposits will alter future possible land use of this site unless the city reaffirms its zoning in advance of the project. Have other companies tried to re-open mines in the area? What were the results? Canadian junior mining company Emgold Mining attempted to open the Idaho-Maryland Mine in the 2005-2012 timeframe, submitted a Draft EIR which was not adequate, and failed to complete a second Draft Environmental Impact Report due to environmental concerns and financial problems. The San Juan Mine (Siskon) opened and was forced to shut down in 1995 after a disastrous draining of local wells due to mining. The impacts of this failure are still felt amongst the residents. Wells were permanently damaged. A mine in nearby Sutter Creek opened in 2013, but after only a brief period of operation the mineshaft flooded and the operation shut back down in 2014. What is the Centennial site, and how is it related to the Rise Gold proposal? The Centennial property covers 56 acres and is located at 10344 Centennial Drive in Grass Valley, along Idaho Maryland Road. It is currently County land, but the City of Grass Valley has included it in their near-term annexation plans. Up until its closure in 1956, the site was the primary processing and access site for the Idaho Maryland Mine. The site now contains over 270,000 cubic yards of legacy tailings material. A significant portion of these tailings have excessive contamination. Reports from the DTSC determined that lead, arsenic, nickel, and mercury are present at hazardous levels and must be removed regardless of whether the mine project is approved or not. An agreement between Rise Gold and the California Department of Toxic Substances (DTSC) mandates that the contaminated tailings be cleaned up, and a work plan is being prepared. This cleanup project permit is a separate project from the mine permit. After the cleanup is done, the mine proposal includes dumping more mine waste on this site. Note that if the mine is approved, even the tailings that are not hazardous must be removed and then later mixed into the new mine waste, as they are not structurally suitable for a base layer for the “engineered fill” of the proposed mine waste pile. Who is Rise Gold? Rise Gold Corp is a 14 year old company that has never opened a mine and never made a profit. They are publicly traded corporation incorporated in Nevada, but their headquarters have always been in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. They've gone through multiple name changes. They originally purchased the mine under the name Rise Resources, Inc., then the name was changed to Rise Gold Corp in April 2017. Rise Gold Corp is an exploration stage mining company whose principal asset is the historic past producing Idaho-Maryland Gold Mine located in California, USA, which it purchased in January of 2017. The CEO for Rise Gold Corp is Benjamin Mossman, a Canadian mining engineer based in Vancouver, Canada. Rise Grass Valley is a wholly owned subsidiary of Rise Gold Corp, also incorporated in Nevada. It was formed in 2017 and is the named applicant for the permit application. Read more about why Rise Gold shouldn't be trusted. Where will the tailings piles be located? Will they be visible? One of the piles of waste rock and tailings will be close to downtown, covering most of the former 56-acre Idaho-Maryland Mine site along Idaho-Maryland Road and west of Centennial Way. This former mine site is now called the Centennial Site. The pile will be up to 7 stories high covering 44 acres and would likely be visible from the Centennial Business Park area and residential units off of Sutton Way. The hospital should have a pretty good view of it, and also drivers along the Hwy 49/20 Freeway. It would be visible from the proposed Dorsey Marketplace apartments looking across the Wolf Creek valley. Bicyclists and walkers along the proposed Wolf Creek trail on I-M Road will find it looming to the south, right across the creek. The second tailing pile will be located at the southern portion of the main processing area on Brunswick Road. It will cover 31 acres and be up to 9 stories high (90 feet), so it will be plainly visible from quite a few of the rural/residential homes and empty lots surrounding neighborhoods, including the new subdivision currently under construction diagonally across the intersection. It will be also visible by anyone driving along Brunswick Road.

    • How They're Beating Pebble Mine

      Beating the Pebble Mine in Alaska is no small feat. It’s been going on for more than 10 years now. Big money and big politics are involved. But recent setbacks make the prospects of opening the mine very dim. And it’s a great lesson in strategies for beating Rise Gold and the proposed Idaho-Maryland Mine in Grass Valley. 1) Force them to prove they will do no harm. If they can’t, you win. Knowing the law matters. “The Army Corps of Engineers on Wednesday denied a permit under the Federal Clean Water Act for the proposed Pebble Mine in Alaska, likely dealing a death blow to a long-disputed project that aimed to extract one of the world’s largest deposits of copper and gold ore, but which threatened breeding grounds for salmon in the pristine Bristol Bay region… In a statement, the Army Corps’ Alaska District Commander, Col. Damon Delarosa, said the mine, proposed for a remote tundra region about 200 miles from Anchorage, would be “contrary to the public interest” because “it does not comply with Clean Water Act guidelines.” 2) Look for and expose dirty business. "In September, the future of the multibillion dollar project appeared in doubt when secret recordings of company executives suggested that they were planning for a much larger mine, and one that would operate far longer, than what had been proposed to the Corps. The recordings were obtained by an environmental advocacy group, with two members who were posing as potential investors in the project meeting by video with two project executives. The executives described how the mine could operate for 160 years or more beyond the proposed 20 years, and how its output could double after the first two decades. In the fallout from the recordings, one of the executives, Tom Collier, chief executive of the Pebble Partnership, resigned." Read the full article here.

    • 312 Jobs? Not What It Seems. Look Closer.

      Nevada County has not commissioned an economic impact study on the proposed reopening of the Idaho-Maryland Mine, but they should. Rise Gold promises they'll bring 312 jobs to the County, but a prior economic study suggests about half of those would come from out of area, less than 2% of those employees would buy homes, and simply allowing the property to develop according to the County's existing general plan would actually bring more jobs. Impacts to Jobs and Housing from the Proposed Idaho-Maryland Mine The application documents submitted by Rise Gold show anticipated jobs that will be created once the mine is fully operational.[1] However, questions remain about the quantities and phasing of these jobs, and whether they will be filled from the local workforce or by people with specific technical skills from out of the area. It is also important to know what would be the net gain or loss of jobs in the area as a result of the mine, as well as the impacts on housing that may be caused by an influx of workers. While it is true that we can expect some evaluation of housing impacts in the Draft Environmental Impact Report when it is eventually published, a more useful and comprehensive economic study regarding jobs, fiscal effects, and economic growth is not being done. There was an economic study done as part of the analysis for the previous attempt to open the mine by Emgold Mining Corporation, 2008.[2] It must be noted that the proposed project by Emgold was different in several ways. It included a tile factory as a means of disposing the mine tailings by fusing them into tiles. And the main processing facilities were to be on the 56 acre site on Idaho-Maryland Road, not at the Brunswick site. But otherwise, the proposals are similar in that they include dewatering, establishment of a mineral processing facility, and the same basic activities of reopening and operating the mine. There are a number of things that we can learn from that economic study. For example, because the Emgold project would have included a tile factory, the number of jobs when fully operational was predicted to be more, anticipating full operations to include 400 employees [3] (versus 312 employees in the current Rise Gold proposal [1]). Noteworthy, according to this study, 52% of the jobs would be filled by people who relocated to the Grass Valley area. [4] Also, a critical piece in assessing the true economic impact of a project is to compare it with the alternative of “no project”. In this case, a comparison was made in 2008 between allowing the property to be developed according to the Grass Valley General Plan versus permitting the mine as per the Emgold proposal. The findings of this comparison were rather surprising: “Under the General Plan Land Use Alternative, the land designated for Business Park use (the 56-acre northern portion of the Idaho-Maryland site) would accommodate about 800 jobs at buildout (see Table 9). The proposed Idaho-Maryland project would not generate as many total jobs in the City of Grass Valley. Up to 660 people would be working at the project area when construction and early operations phases overlapped. Over the 14 years of stabilized operations, the proposed project would employ about 400 people (see Table 3).” [5] The “no project” alternative would provide twice as many jobs! What about impacts to housing in this comparison? The study looked at the number of people who would come from out of the area for the ongoing operations once the construction phase was done. A large portion of them would take up residence as enters. There were also a number of people who would be commuting weekly from out of the area and just renting a room. Only 6 of the 400 would be home buyers. In total, of the 400 employees for operations, it was estimated that about 208 would be from out of the area, and 161 would constitute new renters in the area. [6] What conclusions can we draw from this study? Granted, it was done 13 years ago, and for a different project. But the fundamentals of the workforce, the local economy, and the housing have not changed much, except that housing is in a shorter supply. In conclusion, it seems reasonable that if the economic study were done again it would have the same basic results: that following the General Plan will produce more jobs, that about half of the workers would come from out of the area, and that most of them would stay in rentals. [1] Idaho-Maryland Mine Project Description, November 2019, pg17. [2] Hausrath Economics Group, Economic And Fiscal Analysis of the Proposed Idaho- Maryland Mine Project in Grass Valley, California, July 30, 2008. [3] Ibid., pg 4. [4] Ibid., pg 6. [5] Ibid., pg 19. [6] Ibid., pg 6, 13.

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    • Take Action |

      Act NOW! 1. Sign the Petition! 2. Get a Free Button Show your support with the bold "Stop the Idaho-Maryland Mine" button. ​ Send us an email with your mailing address We promise not to share it with others. 3. Comment at Board of Supervisors Meetings The Board meets twice a month. Your written or spoken comments make a huge difference! ​ Learn how Whether you have a lot of time, or just a little, there are things you can do to help. one stop action shop stay in the know Subscribe to our newsletter to get the latest news and events, action alerts, and invitations to monthly meetings hosted by CEA Foundation. Strength in numbers makes a big impression. Subscribe to eNews Follow us on Facebook become an advocate We're on a mission to be the most vocal group at the regularly scheduled County Board of Supervisor's meetings. Your written or spoken comments can make a huge difference. Learn How Get The Word Out We need to alert the community about this project. Can you reach out to neighbors digitally, set up virtual meetings, or visit local businesses? We could use your help. Ask About the Kit Donate Your donation helps with political advocacy, community education, and legal fees - including hiring the best legal experts from the highly respected environmental law firm, Shute, Mihaly, and Weinberger. Your donation goes to our sponsor, Community Environmental Advocates Foundation. Donate thank you for your support understand the process The approval process for the mine is regulated by California's Environment Quality Act (CEQA), making the whole effort a marathon, not a sprint. Listen to CEA Foundation volunteer, Paul Schwartz, talk about CEQA and the timeline for this project. Approval / Denial Process Timeline Our team is watching the calendar for crucial action times. Here are the major dates: July 2020 Notice of Preparation open for Community Review Late Spring 2021 Draft Environmental Impact Report open for Community Review Fall 2021 Government Review of Final Environmental Impact Report Winter 2021 Nevada County Board of Supervisors makes a Decision Join our Facebook Group Ready to get active? become a minewatcher Join our newsletter for updates and monthly meeting invitations. Subscribe

    • Stop The Idaho-Maryland Mine | MineWatch Nevada County

      Sign the Petition! TOGETHER, WE CAN STOP THE MINE. Join Us Protect our health, economy, and quality of life. Rise Gold, a junior mining company with questionable experience, wants to reopen the Idaho-Maryland Mine in Grass Valley, CA. why stop the mine? Our Nevada County Supervisors will vote on the proposed reopening of the Idaho-Maryland Mine as early as 2021. Residents and businesses think it's a really bad idea. ​ Here are our . 8 top reasons -Mahatma Ghandi Risks our Health untrust worthy Pollutes our Air HURTS LOCALS Drains our Water Noise Pollution Devours our Power CLEANUP Needed Learn More Act NOW! Comment at Board of Supervisors Meetings The Board meets twice a month. Your written or spoken comments can make a huge difference. Get a Free Button Show your support with the bold "Stop the Idaho-Maryland Mine" button. Send us an email with your mailing address. Request Now "Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's needs, but not every man's greed." Featured news Rise Beyond Gold Film The Mine is a Top Focus Area in 2021 for The County Rise Gold Shouldn’t Be Trusted. Here’s Why. become a minewatcher Sign up for our newsletter to get updates and monthly meeting invitations. Subscribe

    • Retired - Clean Up Needed |

      clean up needed Rise Gold’s plans depend upon cleanup of the Centennial Site, which is a pre-superfund site. The County is treating them like two separate projects, but they need to be merged. pre-superfund site UNDERSTAND THE ISSUE Rise Gold owns two sites, the Centennial site near downtown Grass Valley off of Idaho Maryland Road, and the larger Brunswick site at the intersection of East Bennett and Brunswick Roads. ​ The Centennial site is a historically toxic site that is facing EPA Superfund designation. That designation has been paused for the time being because Rise Gold has agreed to clean up the site, but from the County's perspective, these are currently two completely separate projects. Legal experts tell us that the County needs to merge these into one project because the Centennial site needs to be cleaned up before the Idaho-Maryland Mine project can proceed. The Mine project intends to build engineered fill on the Centennial site. ​ take action Write a letter today. Ask your Supervisor to merge the Centennial site cleanup with the Draft Environmental Impact Report for the proposed Idaho-Maryland Mine project. Listen to Barbara Rivenes from the Sierra Club as she explains the EPA's requirements for cleaning up Centennial site and how that relates to the proposed reopening of the Idaho-Maryland Mine. Read the CEA Foundation press release about how Rise Gold was compelled to clean up existing mine tailings. Map of the Idaho-Maryland Mine. Have you searched for 'superfund' in our library? become a minewatcher Join our newsletter for updates and monthly meeting invitations. Subscribe

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