Dale Kasler, writing in today’s Washington Post, quotes Grass Valley’s recent mayor Lisa Swarthout on the sensible objection to opening an old gold mine in the center of town:
In Grass Valley, for instance, a thriving high-tech industry has sprouted in a community where the high school sports teams are called the Miners. Emotions are mixed on the proposal by Emgold Mining of Vancouver, British Columbia, to reopen the old Idaho-Maryland Mine, which hasn’t operated since 1956.
“The landscape of the community has changed,” said Mayor Lisa Swarthout. “When it was an operating mine . . . it was pretty much in the middle of nowhere. The community has grown around it.”
“The community has grown around it.”
There, in a nutshell, is the most fundamental damning fact that should doom the idea of re-opening the old Idaho-Maryland mine in the heart of Grass Valley.
Kassler, despite later quoting a local research group, CLAIM-GV (Citizens Looking at the Impact of Mining in Grass Valley), here trivializes the community’s strong objection to the mine, by framing it in terms of the quirky preference for “boutiques” and B&Bs:
Old mining towns still embrace their Gold Rush roots but have become havens for tourists and retirees. Some residents aren’t convinced that blasting through rock is compatible with boutiques and bed-and-breakfast spots.
The Washington Post article quotes Emgold CEO David Watkinson, who is still repeating his largely discredited promise of 400 jobs and repeating his ludicrous claim that junior mining companies are generally having trouble raising money in these recessionary times.
In fact, other juniors with proven reserves are having no such problems raising funds, especially in this time of exceptionally high gold prices.
Emgold, with no proven reserves, is a uniquely weak prospect for success of any kind.
Watkinson, in his trademark spin, also continues to misrepresent a 2006 telephone survey by claiming that “72 percent of Grass Valley residents” support the mine. In fact, the survey of only 338 residents was conducted before all the negative environmental impacts were documented in the environmental impact report. Those 243 favorable responses were conditional on environmental safeguards being in place.
We do not know how many of those 243 respondents live or own property near the mine site. But we do know now that this proposed industrial hardrock mine near the heart of Grass Valley poses a significant threat to air and water quality, and that it will greatly increase traffic congestion and noise.
“We’ve been hit with the recession, just like everybody else,” said Chief Executive David Watkinson. “Even with the high price of gold, you’ll find junior mining companies are struggling to find money.”
Watkinson said mining would create 400 jobs in Grass Valley. He said he’s encouraged that the project won support of 72 percent of Grass Valley residents in a survey conducted four years ago by the city.
But there is opposition. Critics say the project would create environmental hazards and hurt the quirky character of Grass Valley.
“We feel the real gold is the wonderful environment,” said Ralph Silberstein, a software consultant and president of CLAIM, or Citizens Looking at Impacts of Mining.
Read the full Washington Post article: “Despite price rise, there’s no 21st-century Gold Rush in Calif.”
See Dale Kasler’s original November 2010 Sacramento Bee article, from which today’s Washington Post article was excerpted.