What’s Wrong With Bob Crabb’s Cartoon Image of Emgold?

Bob Crabb, our local and justifiably renowned political cartoonist, has a depiction in today’s Union (“It Takes a Village Idiot“) of the uneasy relationship between the citizens of Grass Valley and Emgold, the Canadian penny-stock speculative gold-exploration company that wants to re-open the old Idaho-Maryland Mine for — of all things! — speculative exploration .

Today’s cartoon visually suggests that this relationship may be about to get more complicated by the arrival of the US mining gorilla, Newmont Mining Corporation, which is shown in the cartoon as a gigantic hairy-armed torso towering over the city and over Emgold’s IMM project. (Newmont recently purchased the 700-acre North Star Property for the purpose, they say, of building a mine-water treatment facility).

Crabb’s sweet image of the city of Grass Valley itself bears a strong resemblance to the helmeted goddess, Athena, patron of Athens, protector of the polis: She is shown wearing a toga and a common (non-regal) warrior’s helmet. She’s an image of purity, a portrayal of the democratic ideal in peril, looking up in wary hesitation at the fearsome hulking figure of Newmont. (UPDATE: See Bob Crabb’s comment following this posting for the explanation of the goddess I mistook for Athena, although Athena is probably mythologically related to the correct answer).

The most interesting feature in the scene is the image of IMM as a diminutive figure holding up a Canadian flag, completely wrapped like a mummy in red-tape by the city of Grass Valley, which applies the tape with one hand while holding an endless roll of it in the other.

Newmont, in Crabb’s rendering, is wielding a miner’s pickaxe, and is much too massive and powerful a creature to be restrained by red tape wielded by a mere village.

My first strong impression when I saw this cartoon was that it shouted out the message, “Poor IMM would go forward if it weren’t for all that unreasonable red tape!”

The truth, as is so often the case in politics (including political cartoons), is far different and far more nuanced.

The city, in fact, has much to fear from Emgold and its proposed IMM project. There is increasing realization among local citizens of the massive scale of the project, in striking contrast to Crabb’s miniscule image of it.

IMM’s underground mineral rights map comprises 2800 acres, an area nearly as large as the entire city of Grass Valley itself.

Look at a map of those 2800 below-surface acres and you will see that they underlie Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital at one extent, Loma Rica at another, the airport at a third, and finally out to the confluence of Brunswick Road and the Colfax Highway.

Also massive is the use of resources it would require, if approved.

“The proposed ceramics plant would double Nevada County’s total yearly natural gas consumption. (1,100M cu. ft. per year)

“No natural gas service exists to the old mine site, and Nevada County may not have enough total pipeline capacity to supply the plant.

“The proposed mining operation yearly electric consumption is more than one third of the 2006 PG&E total supplied to all of Nevada County. (172GWhr per year)

“Diesel to fuel up to 214 20-ton truck trips per day, every day.” ((From “Energy Consumption of Proposed Emgold Mining Operations”)).

These are huge impacts. Every part of Western Nevada County would be affected by that project.

The only thing about the IMM proposal that’s not huge, ironically, is the number of jobs that it would create.

Half the promised jobs would occur only if the very problematic patent-pending ceramics plant is built, and there is no way to know how many of the few remaining jobs would go to locals. But think about it: Studies of mining industry jobs show that most require both secondary education (special training) and prior experience. Does this sound like our local workforce?

Sadly, when compared to the General Plan for that site, the IMM project represents a net job loss to Nevada County, along with a huge loss in quality of life for everyone here.

Clearly, the strongest argument against approving Emgold’s IMM project application is a business argument.

If the Idaho-Maryland project application is approved, the image of Athena in that scene will need to be revised to depict a world-weary Athena dressed in a tattered and soiled robe, on her knees in abject apology to the citizens of her village, whom she has so badly served.

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5 Responses to “What’s Wrong With Bob Crabb’s Cartoon Image of Emgold?”
  1. RL Crabb says:

    The cartoon depicts Emgold in relationship to Newmont., a penny stock outfit that doesn’t operate any mines, as opposed to the only green dot on the stock market board last week. Last time I looked, they were waiting for another DEIR, in my mind, red tape. There’s always been speculation that Emgold would sell out to the Big Guy if they actually got a permit. And the female image of GV is something I’ve used for years. It’s a throwback to the days when cartoonists like Thomas Nast portrayed America as the goddess Columbia.

    Actually the inspiration for the cartoon came from a discussion on Russ Steele’s blog with the person known as Dirtmover. Here’s what he said…

    “If IMM and Newmont join forces, they could really stick it to CLAIM (jumpers) and the Stevy’s (he’s talking about Enos and Frisch) of the aria (his spelling. Maybe he means the fat lady is going to sing?). Stevie and friends might be able to bleed IMM dry, but Newmont? Fat chance.”

    I totally agree with what Mr. Mover says. That’s why I’m leery of them moving into my neighborhood.

  2. depelton says:


    Thanks for your patient explanation. I had a feeling I was gonna hear about that Athena conceit. I’m glad to learn about the Goddess Columbia! (After poking around a bit on the Internet, I’m also glad to see that the Goddess Columbia could probably trace its mythological antecedents back to Athena, but I clearly missed the reference in the context of the wonderful history of cartooning, even though I had encountered the work of Thomas Nast many decades ago when I was a graduate student in American history). Thanks for setting me right on that!

    It’s not surprsiing that Dirt — uh, I mean “Mr Mover” — has his eagle eye focused fiercely on what’s really important to the community: getting revenge on a group of citizens who are researching the problems with opening a dirty hardrock mine in the center of town without bringing any real economic benefits in terms of jobs.

    I smell a whiff of wishful thinking about Newmont as the instrument of that revenge. Not too civic-minded.

    Bleeding IMM dry?

    In fact, IMM — a penny-stock scam from Vancouver that has never mined an ounce of gold in its 20 years of existence — has been wasting Grass Valley’s time for years now. We could have been using our energy and resources to do something productive with that site. It would be more correct to say that IMM has been bleeding us dry.

    People need to wake up and smell the cyanide!

    Newmont (but not Emgold) is too smart to waste its money on a played-out hole in the ground with no proven reserves, now located in the heart of a busy community, where it can never get permitted.

    BTW, yes, everyone should be leery of them moving into their neighborhood.

    Given IMM’s massive size in relation to our small communities, it is in everyone’s neighborhood. That would be even more true in DM’s Newmont fantasy.

    Thank God for NIMBY!

  3. RL Crabb says:

    Another example of the-state-as-goddess is the image of Minerva of the seal of California. Other cartoonists have used the metaphor through the years as well.

    As to Newmont’s purchase of North Star, in another thread on Russ’ site he gives an account of the recent ERC meeting in which Lisa Swartout expresses “surprise” that Newmont bought the entire property when they were expected to only obtain enough acreage for the water treatment plant. She said (according to Russ) that there had been negotiations to develop the area as an industrial park with some other entity. I haven’t talked to anyone directly, so I don’t know the details or accuracy of the report.

    I also heard that Citizen’s Bank wanted to unload the entire property rather than piece it out. I imagine they are desperate to unload any toxic holdings to improve their bottom line. Newmont has said they don’t have any plans to reopen the mine, but we shall see. In the meantime, I thought a shot over their bow was in order.

  4. depelton says:

    Thanks for the interesting comments, Bob.

    It may be that the North Star property is a good investment in its own right, aside from any prospect of mining.

    As you say, we’ll see.

  5. S Griffith says:


    McClintock your CA- 04 Rep is going to be in North Auburn at the Ridge Golf Course at 6pm on Thurs Sept 1st. This was just up on his site and the Aub Journal.
    Tues (today) is the Rocklin Town Hall at 5:30 pm.

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