Energy questions at the Idaho Maryland Mine project

This project would be, by far, the most energy-dependent operation in Nevada County.
   But why does that matter to you?

  1. Changes in energy prices or availability could lead the company to abandon the project, the workers, and the tax base at any stage.
  2. A large natural gas consumer at one location would be in direct conflict with the carbon emission reduction mandates of California's AB32.1
  3. According to the consultant, the project may be in conflict with Grass Valley General Plan objectives due to "wasteful, inefficient, or unnecessary consumption of non-renewable energy resources".2

The following statements are taken directly from "Energy Consumption of Proposed Emgold Mining Operations", updated October 19 2008, published by Alliance for a Post-Petroleum Local Economy.

Natural Gas

  • Consumption: The proposed ceramics plant, if located here, would double Nevada County's total yearly natural gas consumption. (1,100M cu. ft. per year)
  • Supply: No natural gas service exists to the old mine site, and Nevada County may not have enough total pipeline capacity to supply the plant.
  • Prices: Natural gas prices change seasonally and have roughly tripled in the last decade.


  • Consumption: 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)


  • Consumption: enough to fuel between 60 and 128 outgoing 20-ton trucks per day, every day.
  • Prices: Diesel price projections are too variable right now to be of use one way or another. Localized diesel shortages and trucker strikes due to high diesel prices, as seen in the summer of 2008, are possibilites if diesel prices should spike again.

UPDATE: EPA declares 'Outstanding' potential for renewable energy projects at the Contaminated Idaho-Maryland mine site

Sept. 28 2008 - US EPA releases Google-Earth based 'Renewable Energy on Contaminated Land and Mining Sites' maps, assessments, guidelines, and incentive documentation. See the full project online at

In the reports, Idaho-Maryland and Banner Lava Cap mine sites both rate 'Outstanding' for biomass and biorefinery potential, and 'Very Good' for utility-scale solar potential.

Could these sites become massive local renewable energy producers instead of massive consumers?

If the project is approved, could this be a feasible mitigation strategy for the large energy consumption?

  1. California Global Warming Solutions Act, adopted in 2006:
  2. Environmental Initial Study, "Utilities and Service Systems - Summary - Energy Use", pp. 4.15-2,3:

Read More -> Next article