September 5, 2023 at 3:25 PM Update Nevada County has published the petition and related documents here. The hearing is set for Friday, October 27 at 9:00 a.m. in the Board Chambers, 950 Maidu Ave., Nevada City.

Rise Gold submitted a petition for the vested right to mine on the former Idaho-Maryland site to the Nevada County Board of Supervisors. The previously scheduled October 2nd & 3rd hearing to approve or deny their application for a conditional use permit has been canceled.

The Board of Supervisors (BOS) will hear the vested rights petition in late October, according to a previous news release. The petition sent to the BOS on late Friday was not available at publication time.

Hearing the petition first will determine if the application submitted by Rise Gold will need to be heard by the Board. If the BOS approves the petition, the application becomes moot. If the Board denies the petition, the application then moves forward to a BOS hearing.

In a previous correspondence, the applicant requested that its petition be heard directly by the Board of Supervisors and has agreed to waive any procedural rights or irregularities. [Normally the petition would be heard first by the Planning Commission.]

Vested right to mine

A simple definition of “vested right to mine:” A mine operated before 1976 — when the state’s mining law, the Surface Mining and Reclamation Act (SMARA) became effective — and has continued to operate to the present time.

In Rise Gold’s own reclamation plan submitted with their application in 2020 and updated in September of 2022, the background information (page 8 of 957) reads as follows:

The Idaho-Maryland Mine is a historic, past-producing, underground gold mine. The mine produced 2,414,000 ounces of gold between 1866 and 1956. The mine has been inactive since its closure in 1956 and was inactive for several periods during its production period. In 1901 the mine was allowed to flood with water, and then the mine was dewatered in 1904. In 1914 it was again allowed to flood, and then it was dewatered in 1919. The mine was allowed to flood again after its final closure in 1956.Idaho-Maryland Mine Reclamation Plan submitted by Benchmark Resources on behalf of Rise Gold

Any vested mine does not need to apply for a mining permit to the county and no California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) document for the mining operation itself is required. Another exemption concerns grading permits for roads, landing pads, staging areas, etc. Culverts and diversion ponds are also exempt from any oversight under the vested right to mine.

While a vested right to mine relieves an operator from some of the county regulations, all other Surface Mining and Reclamation Act (SMARA) requirements apply, including annual reporting, a lead-agency approved reclamation plan, and an annual financial assurance. Failure to have either a complete reclamation plan or financial assurance is subject to a penalty of up to $5,000 per day, and may also result in a cease-and-desist order.