Nevada County mine hatches new plans for old gold | SierraSun.com

Nevada County mine hatches new plans for old gold

Dave Moller
Sun News Service

GRASS VALLEY ” The Idaho-Maryland Mine could end up a financial boon or a costly venture that never got started again, but Grass Valley Planning Commission members and some residents got to envision what a reopened mine would look like during a tour of the facility Tuesday.

The group including about 70 area residents walked the mine’s two main areas off Idaho-Maryland Road and at the corner of Brunswick Road and Bennett Road with maps and information provided by mine and city officials.

What they found was an old mining site with lots of potential ” but some people also voiced skepticism about what it could do to the Wolf Creek watershed.

The site at Brunswick and Bennett just outside of Grass Valley is where the old mine’s New Brunswick shaft was located. It still has the tall concrete silos left over from the mine’s heyday. A treatment plant would be erected on site to cleanse the water pumped out of the mine when dewatering begins into the south fork of Wolf Creek.

“That’s what might (lower) the wells,” said Virginia Brunini of Grass Valley, who worries what the dewatering might do to the area’s water table.

The mine goes 3,300 feet deep there and the water starts at 260 feet, according to mine officials.

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There are 520 million gallons of water in the abandoned shafts at that location, according to Bill Waters, a mining engineer for the mine.

Some see the dewatering as a potential environmental threat to groundwater and the south fork of Wolf Creek.

There are also concerns about extra vibration, light, noise and traffic from the 101-acre site off Idaho-Maryland Road.

The main mine buildings are planned for that site, in essentially the same area of the original mine. The city wants the mine to move Centennial Drive into line with Spring Hill Drive to create an intersection at the site and then extend Centennial up over the hill to link up with Bennett Street.

The mining firm would like to keep part of the road going through their operation private, but the routing will be negotiated and the city general plan envisions a through street, said Grass Valley Community Development Director Joe Heckel.

The main building area will include the processing plant, ceramics plant for a secondary business of tiles made from mine waste, as well as outside storage of equipment and rock. A new shaft would be driven behind the main building area, with an entrance from the hairpin curve area of East Bennett that is adjacent to the Pre-Built Truss Co.

There also would be a visitors center at the back of the property, which would be visible from Bennett, said mine President Dave Watkinson.

A third site at the corner of Idaho-Maryland and Brunswick Road, where an old main shaft is located, would be retained simply for ventilation and emergency access.

The historic mine was opened in 1862 and had 150,000 pounds of gold taken out of it.

The mine closed in 1956 because the cost of business had exceeded the $35 per ounce price for gold set by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1934.

The market spot price was at $774 per ounce Tuesday, which is part of the reason why Emgold Mining Corp. seeks to reopen the deep, underground facility.