After its two-day public hearing, the Nevada County Planning Commission of California unanimously voted down the proposal to reopen the Idaho-Maryland gold mine near Grass Valley. The property is the principal asset of exploration-stage mining company Rise Gold Corp. (CSE: RISE).
Nevada County Planning Commissioner Terry McAteer, in making his motion to recommend the permit not be approved, cited one of the county’s first environmental thinkers, Lorenzo Sawyer. Sawyer was assigned to San Francisco’s 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, and in 1884, he signed the Sawyer decision into law, which said that the environmental impacts of mining must not be placed on adjoining land or communities.
“Today we are faced with a similar situation which has the potential to infect our air with asbestos and exhaust fumes, impact the wells of our neighbors, discharge harmful elements into the water, destroy many acres of wetlands, add significant amounts of greenhouse gasses into our environment and return to our legacy of mining,” McAteer said.
In a 5-0 vote, other commissioners joined McAteer in his motion, recommending both the Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) and the use permit for the Idaho-Maryland gold project be denied. The vote elicited cheers and elation among the public present during the hearing.
Fifty-eight of the 78 comments made by members of the public during Thursday’s hearing were against the mine’s re-opening, while 20 were in favor of it.
“The mine is very very close to my school,” said 8-year old Bowman Rinne said to the commissioners. “Mine’s are a dangerous operation on the environment, I would like adults to make choices on behalf of the environment, the plants, the animals and the community, not money.”
Another county resident, Lorraine Webb, warned that “whether it is approved or not, there will be enough monies from the people of this county to sue the county if we have to to point out the fact that this is an illegally inadequate EIR.”
However, Commission Chair Bill Greeno reminded everyone that the vote “is just a part of the process.” According to county authorities, the project is still scheduled to go before the Nevada County Board of Supervisors, to whom the Planning Commission is advisory, sometime in August.
Rise Gold shares plummeted almost 60% following the news, sinking to an all-time low.
Rise Gold did not comment on the vote, on top of announcing the Planning Commission’s recommendation. However, one of its independent directors, Lawrence Lepard, came to Twitter ahead of the vote, claiming that the “project is totally clean” and that it is only the “[liberals who] are fighting it.”
“[We] will see if the Planning Commission are adults or not,” Lepard tweeted.
And when the vote came down denying the project, Lepard had one response for those questioning the project. He even added that “nobody in California wants to allow honest work anymore.”
The Idaho-Maryland mine
Between 1866 and 1955, the Idaho-Maryland Mine (IMM) produced 2,414,000 oz of gold with an average mill head grade of 17 g/t gold.
Before being forced to close under War Production Board Order L-208 during World War II, the IMM was the second largest lode gold producer in the United States, producing 920 tons per day with an average mill head grade of 0.38 oz per ton (12.9 g/t) and 121,000 oz of gold per year.
At the IMM Project, Rise Gold has completed 20,600 meters of drilling, and hopes to conduct additional drilling it has planned upon the approval of the Use Permit.
Rise Gold filed its application for a Use Permit with Nevada County in November 2019 to reopen the Idaho-Maryland Mine. The Use Permit application suggests resuming underground mining at a throughput of 1,000 tons per day.
Nevada County released its independent Final Environmental Impact Report on December 16, 2022, confirming no substantial air, biological, water, vibration, or noise impacts from the project.
“The independently prepared FEIR is the culmination of three years of intensive study by the Nevada County government with the support of its consultant, Raney Planning & Management Inc., an experienced firm located in Sacramento, and contributions from many qualified technical experts and scientists,” Rise Gold said in a statement at the time of FEIR’s release.
However, the FEIR also outlined three significant unavoidable impacts, namely temporary construction noise from the installation of a water pipeline, addition of traffic to an intersection already operating at an unacceptable level of service, and aesthetics impact due to noticeable changes to the existing visual character of the project sites.
The Nevada County also released an Independent Economic Study confirming the project’s substantial economic and community benefits, which Rise Gold believes to significantly outweigh the three unavoidable impacts.
Back then, the company expected to have its Use Permit approved during the first quarter of 2023.
“I can’t help but point out, many of the folks who are speaking out professionally about the mine, are being paid to find the findings they are finding,” resident Wade Laughter said to the commission during the hearing. “Many of the folks who are speaking like myself, who are clearly in opposition to the EIR and the mine, are here because we care about this community, not because we want to make money off of it.”
Rise Gold touts a high local support within the Nevada County for the IMM Project based on the recent J Wallin Opinion Research survey conducted. The majority of respondents (59%) favored reopening the Idaho-Maryland Mine, with only 34% opposed.
Rise Gold last traded at $0.21 on the CSE.
Information for this briefing was found via The Union and the sources mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to this organization. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.