The Idaho-Maryland Mining Corporation ("IMMC") thanks all those who attended our two January 30, 2007, community workshops. We appreciated the opportunity to formally introduce to you: revisions to the Idaho-Maryland Mine Project Description (Project Description); updates of our ore exploration and mine planning activities; and advances made by Golden Bear Ceramics Company ("GBC") activities. It was a pleasure to meet with you to learn of your interests and concerns about these activities and the Idaho-Maryland Mine Project ("project").
Our community relations outreach program complements the three-phase program that the City of Grass Valley ("City") undertook in 2005 to conduct an environmental review of the Idaho-Maryland Mine Permit Applications. The environmental review of the Applications is being conducted in accordance with the California Environmental Quality Act ("CEQA") and Surface Mining and Reclamation Act ("SMARA"). Many of the changes in the Project Description have been developed to address concerns identified by the community since environmental review began and identified in the City's Phase I work product, the June 2006 Master Environmental Assessment ("MEA"). The City's Phase II and Phase III products will be, respectively, the Initial Study ("IS") and Environmental Impact Report ("EIR"). The Phase II is expected to be initiated in 2007 upon the City's acceptance of the 2007 Revised Project Applications contained in Volume IA with the Project Description and graphic plates in Volume IIA. The City's Phase III is expected to be completed in 2008.
The questions and concerns that were expressed at the January 30, 2007, community workshops are summarized below and are organized by the workshop "table topics", including: Geology and Mine Planning, Mine Dewatering and Well Registration, Ceramics, Traffic, and Other Environmental Topics (e.g., air quality and noise). We look forward to hosting workshops in the future, as may be appropriate, to address your interests and concerns about the project. If you would like us to meet with you individually, make a presentation to your neighborhood group or organization, or if you would like to be part of our mailing list, please notify us at either 530-271-0679 or email us at: .
1) What is the advantage of using a decline over a vertical shaft to access an ore body?
Typically, declines are used to access ore bodies that are located less than 1,500 feet (ft) in depth and shafts are used to access ore bodies that are located more than 1,500 ft in depth. As a mine gets deeper and haulage distances get longer, more trucks are required to haul ore up a decline to achieve the same mine production rate. However, a point is generally reached when it is more economical and productive to hoist ore up a shaft, rather than using a decline, and that depth is typically at about 1,500 ft below the surface. In addition, shafts also allow personnel to get to their workplaces more quickly in deep mines than by using a decline.
The disadvantage to using shafts is that they require that the mine be developed at discrete levels. This means that equipment is then "captive" on one level and requires that it be dismantled, moved either up or down the shaft in pieces, and then reassembled on another mine level. These activities are also expensive and result in poor equipment and worker utilization. Often mines use a combination of declines and shafts, and this is what is proposed for the Idaho-Maryland Mine Project, to try to minimize material handling costs and optimize movement of workers, materials, and equipment in the mine.
2) Is it true that 80 to 85 percent of the gold recovered from the mine will be used for body adornment?
The gold ore from the mine will be processed into gold doré (e.g. unrefined gold containing approximately 90 percent gold and 10 percent other base metals). Gold doré will be sent off-site to a custom gold refiner for purification and sale as gold bullion. The percentage of gold that is used in jewelry fluctuates as it is dependent on the market demand for body adornments. However, according to recent statistics available from the World Gold Council website, www.gold.org, "around 70 percent of gold demand is jewelry, 11 percent is industrial (dental, electronics) and 13 percent is investment (institutional and individual, bars and coins). Gold jewelry has strong 'investment' attributes in all countries, and in markets such as India and Middle East, is sold by weight at the prevailing daily rate with a supplementary 'making charge' which varies according to the complexity of the piece."
3) What will be the impacts from blasting?
The IMMC will use proper blasting techniques to reduce noise and vibrations. This means using multiple small blasts with short delays instead of a single, large blast. Initially, blasting will be conducted during the daytime and early evening hours only. As the decline advancement progresses deeper, it will become further from the surface and, therefore, less discernable. During decline development, blasting vibrations will be monitored from the surface using seismographs. By the time blasting is conducted under adjacent properties the underground workings will be more than 700 ft deep and should not be felt at the surface. The City and its consultants will address this matter as part of the CEQA and SMARA review and it will be addressed in the EIR.
4) Will the Idaho-Maryland Mine be processing material form Greenhorn Creek Quarry?
Currently, the IMMC has no plans to process material from the Greenhorn Creek Quarry.
5) What precautions will be taken to avoid drilling into the historic workings?
The IMMC proposes to re-open the historic Idaho-Maryland Mine and rehabilitate the mine at various levels to extract ore resources. As such, historic underground mine workings may be penetrated to verify ore resources and reinforce the workings to facilitate ore exploration and extraction activities in accordance with local, state and federal occupational safety laws and regulations.
6) We heard there is to be a reduction of ceramics production from 2,400 to 1,200 tons per day, what throughput number are you going to use?
The IMMC plans to produce 2,400 short tons per day ("STPD") of ore of which 2,400 STPD will be processed (e.g., crushed) at the gold processing plant. Of this development rock, 1,200 STPD per day will become throughput at the ceramics plant. The 1,200 ton per day balance will be used as backfill. The local market for aggregate is being explored to determine whether up to 800 STPD of development rock could be productively used to support construction projects.
7) When will ore begin being produced?
Gold ore production mining and tolling is expected to begin within 24 months from the time the City issues a Conditional Use Permit for the project. Gold ore processing is expected to begin within 48 months after the permit is issued.
8) Was the cyanide plant relocated as part of the Idaho-Maryland Site Plan revision?
The cyanide plant is located in the process plant and was relocated from the north portion of the site to the central portion of the site with the ceramics plant as part of the Project Description Revision (refer to the Revised Idaho-Maryland Site Plan on the front inside cover).
9) How will the ore be transported out of the mine?
Initially as the decline is being excavated, material (ore and waste rock) will be transported up the decline using trucks and stockpiled on the surface. Eventually, material will be conveyed to surface by way of a belt conveyor to surface stockpiles.
1) What will be the fate of any specimen ore that is extracted from the mine?
Specimen ore may occasionally be collected from either the underground mine or in the gold processing plant. Specimen ore is expected to be separated and either sold to qualified buyers (e.g., local businesses, collectors) or loaned to museums for display.
2) What production level might the project eventually expand to -- if 1,200 tons per day then 2,400 tons per day in the future -- will there be more after that?
The ceramics plant is planned to have a maximum production rate of 1,200 STPD. The project is not expected to exceed 2,400 STPD in ore production of which up to 1,200 STPD may be used as backfill in the mine.
3) Will jewelry be made from the gold from the mine?
The end use of the gold doré will be determined by its purchaser. Attributes of gold include: superior electrical conductivity, malleability, and resistance to corrosion. These qualities have made gold vital to the manufacture of a wide range of electronic products and equipment, including: computers, telephones, cellular phones, air bags, pollution control devices, and home appliances. Gold also has extraordinarily high reflective properties that are relied upon in the extraordinarily high reflective properties that are relied upon in the shielding that protects spacecrafts and satellites from solar radiation. Industrial and medical lasers use gold-coated reflectors to focus light energy. Gold is biologically inactive and thus has become a vital tool for medical research and is used in the direct treatment of arthritis and other intractable diseases. Typical uses for gold other than jewelry include: currency, artwork, electronics, medical, and dental applications.
4) What recovery process will be used to liberate the gold from the rock?
Industrial minerals and gold ore will be initially crushed underground before being transported by belt conveyor to the surface stockpiles or directly into the enclosed processing facilities. Industrial and gold ore-containing rock will be further crushed and finely ground to enable approximately 80 percent to pass through a 100-mesh screen (100 openings per square inch). After passing through the screen, gold ore will enter a gravity gold recovery circuit that is expected to recover up to 85 percent of the gold without the use of reagents. Further processing will involve the using a combination of flotation and cyanidation techniques.
Less than 15 percent of the ore will be treated with an intensive cyanidation process where small quantities of sodium cyanide ("NaCN") solution will be used as a reagent to extract gold from the ore and gold concentrate. The NaCN dissolves the gold into a chemical solution in a highly monitored, closed circuit process, which allows for the economic recovery of the gold by employment of an electro-winning (electroplating) technology. All un-reacted cyanide solution is recovered and recycled for reuse in the electro-winning process. There will be trace amounts of NaCN contained in some of the tailings, which will be reacted with other reagents to destroy the NaCN prior to final dewatering and transfer to the ceramics plant. The gold will be further recovered by smelting gold bearing sludge from electro-winning in a small electric furnace to produce gold doré (metal alloy) containing approximately 88 to 92 percent gold and the balance consisting of other precious and base metals that will be sent to an off-site custom gold refiner for purification and sale.
5) Are there characteristics of the Idaho-Maryland Mine that are similar to the Banner Lava-Cap Mine (e.g., arsenic by-products)?
The Banner Lava Cap ("BLC") mine tailings impoundment is an U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Superfund site. The focus of the U.S. EPA's effort is to repair the on-site tailings impoundment. The regulatory concern in the BLC tailings is the arsenic concentrations that exceed the allowable Total Threshold Limit Concentration ("TTLC", or 1,000 mg/kg) and Soluble Threshold Limit Concentration ("STLC", or 5 mg/l).
Ore bodies containing arsenic occur in the Mother Lode Gold Belt and can vary significantly in localized geologic formations that have been developed for mines in close proximity of one another. The distribution of rock types and their mineral compositions beneath the mines may differ drastically. Numerous samples of rock and tailings fines representative of the historic Idaho-Maryland Mine and future development rock and future tailings materials have been tested by independent accredited laboratories to determine the presence or absence of "heavy metals" content of these materials. In contrast to the BLC mine wastes, analytical results of the historic and future Idaho-Maryland Mine materials indicate that metals such as arsenic, lead, mercury, et al., to be below both the TTLC and the STLC limits. The metavolcanic rock type below the historic and future Idaho-Maryland Mine system contains very low amounts of sulfide minerals such as galena (lead sulfide), arseno-pyrite (iron-arsenic sulfide) and other sulfides that typically contain some amount of heavy metals within their mineral structure.
6) What other minerals does the ore contain?
The primary minerals associated with gold ore will be pyrite, quartz, and calcium carbonate. The ore may also contain traces of tungsten, galena and chalcopyrite.
7) Native gold usually is alloyed with other minerals, how pure is the Idaho-Maryland gold?
Purity of gold is measured in a unit referred to as fine. Pure gold is "1,000-fine". The gold from the historic Idaho-Maryland Mine ranged in purity from 750 to 850 fine, or, was 75 to 85 percent pure (with 15 to 25 percent other minerals such as copper).
8) How high do we expect the price of gold to go?
During the past six years, the price of gold has fluctuated between $260.00 and $680.00 per ounce depending on market conditions. Gold performed very well in 2006 achieving price levels not seen since 1981. The rally, which began in 2001, was originally driven by the declining U.S. dollar and soaring U.S. personal, corporate and government debt. The potential future strength in the value of gold may be attributed to dramatically improving fundamentals. Global investment demand more than doubled in 2005 and 2006. The cumulative holdings of all gold Exchange Traded Funds rose by more than 100 percent and it appears some central banks are diversifying their portfolios by increasing their holdings of gold. In addition, industrial uses are becoming an increasingly important component of gold demand. Applications in medical technology, aerospace, computer technology and telecommunications are growing the demand for gold every year.
We continue to believe that the fundamentals for gold are favorable. The increasing demand for gold in all sectors is not being met by the slow growth in its supply. The mining industry's lack of investment in exploration and development from 1997 to 2003 is now hindering the industry's ability to meet the growing demand for precious metals. The number of significant gold discoveries in recent years has dwindled and the time to take a property from initial exploration to an operating mine can be 10 to 12 years. It is difficult to identify any sources of significant supply increases in the foreseeable future. As the major mining companies continue to merge and consolidate the industry these activities do very little to increase the overall resources and reserves identified in the ground. The task of discovering and defining the future producing mines of the world still remains the responsibility of the junior exploration and emerging mining companies. Many of the new discoveries are in remote areas of the world and are associated with numerous social, economic and political uncertainties, not to mention challenges with infrastructure and a shortage of experienced and qualified people to work and operate mines.
Gold as an asset class is gaining increasing acceptance amongst investors. As well some of the Central Banks are considering increasing their reserves. Gold endures as an investment, maintaining its long-term value, a value that is not dependent on a promise to pay or the economic polices of individual countries. Gold and gold stocks can provide stability to an investment portfolio at a time of increasing world financial imbalances and continued currency devaluation. Clearly, the future is bullish for gold.
9) Will the Idaho-Maryland Shaft be an employee entrance to the mine?
The proposed Idaho-Maryland Shaft and the proposed decline will be the primary means of employee ingress and egress to the mine. The refurbished, historic New Brunswick Shaft will be used initially for early exploration access but following that, it will only be used for dewatering activities, ventilation, emergency ingress and egress.
10) How will asbestos be handled as part of the mine development and operations?
It is expected that there may be some naturally occurring serpentinite, which can include fibrous asbestos materials, to be unearthed during mine operations. We will be able to quantify the amounts and locations of the serpentinite upon completion of the underground exploration work that will precede active mining operations. However, we expect that it will be a small percentage of the total rock mined. If extracted, the serpentinite could be included in the feed material to the ceramics plant or re-deposited in the mine as backfill. A substantial amount of serpentinite material can be tolerated in the ceramics feed and the asbestos will be physically altered into a non-hazardous state by the manufacturing.
An Asbestos Dust Control Plan will be developed upon completion of the CEQA process for the approval of the Northern Sierra Air Quality Management District ("NSAQMD") prior to construction commencing. Dust control measures, therefore, will be employed during surface and subsurface activities to ensure the protection of the community and employees. The Fact Sheet may be accessed electronically at the following location: Asbestos-Serpentinite Fact Sheet
1) With regard to the 12 homes on Silk Tassel Road: can we ask the U.S. Geological Survey staff about the potential impact on the domestic wells before and after the Mine is dewatered to the 3,000 ft level and also the wells about one mile away?
Community members, as well as IMMC, may consult with the U.S. Geological Survey to address issues associated with mine dewatering. The City has retained ESA Consultants to perform the CEQA analyses for the project and prepare the EIR. The potential impacts associated with mine dewatering will be addressed as part of those studies. The City and its consultants may coordinate with the U.S. Geological Survey to address the dewatering matter as part of those studies. IMMC has retained Todd Engineers to assist with addressing the mine dewatering in our mine plan as a follow-up to a previous study was done as part of the 1995 EIR developed for the predecessor project to that proposed by IMMC for Idaho-Maryland mine. Todd Engineers will assist IMMC in developing a well monitoring plan to take effect before, during, and after the mine is dewatered to the 3,000 ft level for those wells within an area that has the potential to be impacted by dewatering activities.
2) Will mine dewatering impact the water wells situated along the fault contacts?
The City and its consultants will evaluate whether or not mine dewatering may impact water wells situated along fault contacts as part of the EIR.
3) How will the IMMC deal with the erosion effect from dewatering the mine particularly the danger of undermining the trees along South Fork of Wolf Creek? Will there be any insurance coverage provided for such a circumstance?
The City and its consultants will evaluate whether or not erosion may occur as a result of discharging treated mine water via an in-stream diffuser in South Fork of Wolf Creek as part of the EIR. Mitigations to such conditions, if any, would be identified in the EIR process and become conditions to the use permit issued to IMMC.
The historic Idaho-Maryland Mine discharged mine water at rate of approximately 500 to 1,200 gpm without incident to Wolf Creek and South Fork of Wolf Creek. Hence, it is not expected that erosion associated with mine water discharges would occur to either creek.
In addition, the IMMC will obtain a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Permit ("NPDES") from the State Water Resources Control Board ("Board"), Central Valley Region (hereafter, Regional Water Quality Control Board, "RWQCB") in which water quality parameters and allowable discharge flows are expected to be defined. Discharges will be made via an in-stream diffuser for which IMMC will obtain a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers. Although IMMC may obtain insurance for the project, the extent to which it would need to address potential creek erosion cannot be determined at this time.
4) How will you address the issues of Air Quality, Mine Water Quality and Mine Dewatering?
The IMMC will address the issues of air quality, mine water quality and mine dewatering with the appropriate local, state and federal government agencies. The City is the lead agency for the project and will evaluate these issues as an integral part of their CEQA and SMARA studies. The City will coordinate studies to ensure the involvement of the NSAQMD (responsible for administering the federal Clean Air Act) and the Board (responsible for administering the federal and state Clean Water Acts through its RWQCBs).
5) Once dewatering commences, or during the life of the project, and my well goes dry or loses productivity:
· Who will determine the cause of it?
· How long will it take to replace my water?
· Who will be the contact person for mitigating the emergency water loss?
· What will be the procedure for addressing emergency loss?
The IMMC has included in the current project design the 1995 mine dewatering mitigation plan developed as part of the 1995 EIR. The intent of including such a mitigation plan in the project design is to ensure that domestic well owners proximate to the New Brunswick project site will have a continuous supply of potable water during project operations should individual wells become impacted during dewatering activities. The mitigation the IMMC has proposed includes the following steps:
· Establishing ground water level baseline data before proposed mine dewatering;
· Providing a pre-engineering design to connect affected well owners to Nevada Irrigation District (NID) water service;
· Posting a financial assurance bond for connections to NID water service;
· Providing an early detection program via monitoring to identify impacted wells;
· Providing interim and permanent water supplies to those well owners; and
· Being responsible for the difference in cost between NID service and private well operation costs.
The City and County will be reviewing the adequacy of the proposed mitigation in their review of the project application to ensure that interim and permanent water supplies will be available for potentially impacted well owners. The details of how the IMMC will be responsible for implementing the dewatering mitigation, including costs for providing NID service, have yet to be determined. The City and its consultants will be evaluating the program proposed in the project applications.
Residents are encouraged to register their well with IMMC and become part of the well monitoring program. The program is designed to facilitate collection of data so that water levels in proximity to the historic mine can be established prior to dewatering occurring and assist the City and the County in evaluating potential impacts to domestic wells proximate to the historic mine. The data collected will provide a reference from which changes in individual well performance can be detected for those that may be selected to be monitored during mine dewatering.
6) Will the quality of water in my well be monitored?
There is currently no plan in place to measure well water quality. We presume that individual well owners regularly monitor the quality of their water used as potable water in accordance with guidance from the County of Nevada ("County") Department of Environmental Health.
7) What recourse will I have if the water put in the creek by IMMC floods my land?
As part of the EIR, the City and its consultants will evaluate whether or not mine water discharge rates may result in creating the potential for flooding downstream of the discharges via in-stream diffusers in South Fork of Wolf Creek or Wolf Creek. Mitigations to such conditions, if any, would be identified in the EIR process and become conditions to the use permit issued to IMMC. The historic Idaho-Maryland Mine discharged mine water at rate of approximately 500 to 1,200 gpm without incident to Wolf Creek and South Fork of Wolf Creek. Hence, it is not expected that flooding associated with mine water discharges would occur to either creek. In any event, the IMMC can not be responsible for flood damage caused by naturally occurring floods or floods caused by conditions beyond its control (i.e. a downstream blocked culvert that causes a flood).
8) Will the water put in the creek be monitored for chemicals?
To dewater the mine, IMMC will obtain a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination Discharge System ("NPDES") Permit from the Board through its RWQCB. The mine water has been analyzed and has been found to contain elevated concentrations of naturally-occurring iron and manganese that, at a minimum, would be monitored at water treatment plants located at the New Brunswick and Idaho-Maryland sites. After treatment, the water will be discharged to the South Fork of Wolf Creek or Wolf Creek, respectively, in accordance with the NPDES permit which will also specify discharge requirements for flow rate, pH, and temperature, inorganic and organic constituents, as appropriate. As a precautionary measure, the water treatment plants will be designed to remove constituents to meet the California Toxics Rule, although the only constituents observed in elevated concentrations at this time have been iron and manganese.
9) How can you prove that mine dewatering will not dry up my well?
Studies are being conducted by both IMMC and the City's consultants to evaluate the potential impacts associated with mine dewatering. The geological formation in which many of the wells are situated is fractured bedrock, therefore, the impacts of mine dewatering are difficult to predict or prove at this point in the studies. As described in the response to Question No. 5 (above), IMMC has included in the current project design the 1995 mine dewatering mitigation plan developed as part of the 1995 EIR.
1) Does the mine water have any commercial value? California growth requires additional water.
The groundwater that will be extracted from the historic Idaho-Maryland mine workings is considered to be "waters of the State", and as such, is under the jurisdiction of the Board. The IMMC has no plans to store the mine water extracted from the New Brunswick shaft as part of the project activities. Instead, treated water will be discharged to the South Fork of Wolf Creek and Wolf Creek, in accordance with a NPDES permit that will be sought from the RWQCB in compliance with the federal and state Clean Water Acts. In Grass Valley, the South Fork of Wolf Creek joins Wolf Creek, a creek that is used to convey water by the NID through its network of canals. Further downstream Wolf Creek joins the Bear River where the water might be stored by South Sutter Water District ("SSWD") at Camp Far West Reservoir.
2) Has an evaluation been performed that addresses potential impacts to "overlying groundwater rights" and "prescriptive rights" to use in the dewatering assessment?
The City and County will be reviewing the adequacy of the proposed mitigation and whether or not water rights of well owners and the mine will need to be evaluated in the EIR in their review of the revised project application. The matter of water rights may be addressed in the EIR to be prepared for the project by the City in accordance with the CEQA.
The necessity of addressing the water rights matter may be pre-empted by the fact that the dewatering mitigation plan included in the project's 1995 EIR has been incorporated in the current Idaho-Maryland Mine project design, as described in the response to Question No. 5 (above).
3) How many wells will be affected during mine dewatering?
The City and its consultant will be evaluating the water data provided by the IMMC to determine the extent to which domestic wells may be impacted by the proposed project dewatering, if any.
4) Describe the impacts of the mine development to water and whether the solid wastes are hazardous.
The quality of the water currently occupying the historic mine workings has been analyzed since the mid 1990s and most recently in 2006. Elevated levels of naturally-occurring iron and manganese have been detected in the mine water. A water treatment plant will be constructed at the New Brunswick and Idaho-Maryland sites to ensure water extracted from the historic mine workings is treated prior to being discharged to meet the NPDES permit requirements that will be set forth by the RWQCB. The water treatment plants will be package units that are capable of meeting California Toxic Rule standards.
Analyses of the rock and historic tailing from the Idaho-Maryland Mine have been shown to contain low concentrations of sulfide minerals (e.g., galena and arsenopyrite). These are the naturally-occurring minerals in the Mother Lode District that typically contain lead and arsenic. It is expected that the rock extracted from the mine will not contain hazardous concentrations of these heavy metals. Any material mined will be recycled into ceramics products, aggregate, or be returned underground as backfill. There will be no surface disposal of mineral byproducts from the mine and material to be backfilled into the mine will be evaluated to ensure there would be no subsurface disposal of potentially hazardous materials.
5) What type of treatment and filtering system will be used for dewatering?
The project water treatment systems will include three stages of water treatment:
· The first stage involves aerating the water in two tanks. Aeration is a physical process which is used to reduce the amount of chemicals required during the second stage of the water treatment process. Pressurized air will be introduced into the water in the first tank and water is then detained in a second tank. This allows the oxidation reactions of inorganics (e.g., iron and manganese);
· The second stage of water treatment involves adsorption, clarification and filtration. The adsorption and clarification processes will be performed simultaneously. This process uses chemical flocculants and buoyant plastic media to effect gravity separation of the constituents of concern from the water. Further removal of constituents is achieved by filtration downstream of the adsorption and clarification processes. The mixed media used during filtration is composed of carbon and sand of varying particle size. The constituents, in the form of sludge, will be removed during the second stage of the water treatment process and sent to holding tanks. The anticipated sludge generated will be approximately two tons per year at the Idaho-Maryland site and five tons per year at the New Brunswick site. The sludge will be dewatered at the Idaho-Maryland site and used as a colorant for the ceramic manufacturing; and
· The third stage of water treatment involves use of vessels containing resins that chemically bond to the constituents of concern. If necessary, water from the second stage treatment will be pumped through this ion exchange system. Different ion exchange resins will be required to remove different constituents of concern should they be observed in water prior to treatment (e.g., arsenic, lead, mercury and aluminum) to meet the California Toxics Rule. Spent resins will be replaced with fresh resins on an as required basis depending on the concentration of the constituents of concern. The spent resins will be recycled by the resin manufacturer.
6) How will wells within 2 miles off of Greenhorn Road be affected?
The City and its consultants will evaluate the potential effects associated with mine dewatering as part of the EIR. Greenhorn Road, however, is located up-gradient of the mine workings that will be dewatered and that area is, therefore, unlikely to be impacted.
1) What is the timetable for ceramics plant expansion?
The ceramics plant is expected to be completed within 18 months of the permit approval. The initial throughput of the ceramics plant will match the mine output of between 300 to 600 STPD. Approximately 90,000 ft2 to 180,0002 of tile per day will be produced from this mine output. The mine production will increase to approximately 1,200 STPD from which 360,000 ft2 per day of tile will be manufactured.
2) How will IMMC maintain feed to the ceramics plant if the ore production stops temporarily?
There will be two ore stockpiles and six storage silos of ceramic feedstock that will provide surge capacity for ceramics production during a temporary lapse in mine operations.
3) As the operations scope is being defined -- could you clarify what production volumes the ceramics plant will use for "emission permitting"?
The production volumes used for "emissions permitting" with the NSAQMD will be 1,200 STPD.
4) Why isn't the tile plant being constructed in Nevada where the mine wastes are?
The GBC is investigating building additional tile factories associated with mining activities and utility coal fly ash in Nevada and other locations. Many factors affect the location of a ceramics plant including: feed availability, market location, size, transportation costs, availability of natural gas, and labor costs.
5) Will GBC go through the same government process as the Idaho-Maryland mine?
The CeramextTM ceramics plant is an integral part of the existing Idaho-Maryland Mine Project Permit Application and, as such, will undergo the same governmental permit process simultaneously. GBC would undergo the same permit processes in California for ceramics plants that would be constructed and operate separately from the Idaho-Maryland Mine project.
6) What are the current marketing efforts for tile?
The GBC has attended several trade shows to solicit feedback on our product from architects, designers, builders, developers, and government agencies. Currently, GBC is not involved in retail marketing activities because only limited quantities can be produced from our pilot plant located in Grass Valley.
7) Are only flat tiles being produced?
The current CeramextTM manufacturing technology produces flat and curved tile. Our technology, however, is constantly evolving and new products are being developed.
8) How competitive are you with the existing tile manufacturers?
Italian ceramic manufacturers are considered a high cost tile producers, yet they currently dominate the world market because of their innovative product designs and superior quality. We expect to compete with Italian products because the ceramics products that IMMC will manufacture have comparative quality with better mechanical strength, lower water absorption and higher dimensional precision. Chinese ceramic manufacturers typically compete in the lower end residential markets with correspondingly lower cost products. The IMMC does not plan to compete in this market segment. Currently, Chinese manufacturers are neither leaders in design nor innovation; they compete primarily on price along with other low cost producers, in Brazil, Thailand, and Indonesia.
9) What are the investment opportunities with Golden Bear Ceramics (GBC)?
Questions regarding investments should be directed to Mike O'Connor, Manager, Investor Relations, at 1-888-267-1400. Efforts are underway to separate GBC as a stand alone company. This will allow GBC to expand beyond the Idaho-Maryland Mine project and allow investors outside the gold community to invest in an environmentally-conscious tile ceramics manufacturing company.
10) How will the separate companies operate at one site once GBC is spun-off?
The IMMC and GBC will execute a contract (e.g. a license, joint venture agreement, or other such relationship) which will enable them to function as a team on the Idaho-Maryland Mine project.
11) Is special grout required for installation in wet areas (e.g., showers)?
Standard grouts and mastics, commonly used by masons, have been tested with our stone tile with great success.
12) Can hydronic under-floor heating be used with GBC tile?
The premier demonstration installation in Placer County uses GBC tile which is heated by hydronic under floor heating.
13) Will a large smoke stack or gas plume be visible from the ceramics plant?
Depending on atmospheric conditions a condensed moisture plume may be visible from the ceramics plant. A large smoke stack is not envisioned as part of the ceramics plant design.
14) What will be the air quality impact to Grass Valley residents as a result of the GBC factory?
The GBC has proposed to use the Best Available Control Technology ("BACT") as part of the ceramics plant design to comply with emission regulations and requirements and minimize the air quality impacts to City and County residents. The City and its consultant will be evaluating the BACT proposed by the IMMC to determine the extent to air quality may be impacted, if any, and identify appropriate mitigation measures that may be required to comply with NSAQMD policies.
15) Will GBC be trucking in feedstock and will any of it be hazardous?
The GBC plans to use only development rock and tailings from the Idaho-Maryland Mine project to produce tile at its ceramics plant in the City. It is possible that non-hazardous mineral by-products from other mines in small quantities could eventually be imported for blending purposes, to produce different colors of tile.
16) What is the economic viability of GBC as compared to its foreign competitors?
An article written by Mr. Eric Carson in Tile Magazine (January 2007) states that "the U.S. tile manufacturers have a 35 percent cost advantage over foreign manufacturers. This deduction in costs can be attributed to the cost of oil used to transport tile via trucks and ocean freighters while en route to the U.S.A. Stone tile is currently selling for $3.75 to $8.95 per ft2 at discount tile houses." Based on these prices, our projections are that we can make stone tile from mineral waste rock fines for a profit. The GBC has other cost advantages such as low cost of "waste" feedstock materials and high market value, based on high tile performance.
1) If the mine is not re-opened, will IMMC truck in materials for ceramics production?
A commercial-scale GBC plant would only be built in the City if the Idaho-Maryland Mine is re-opened. However, the GBC Research and Development facility would remain operational in the City. If the ceramics plant is constructed and the gold mine were to close for reasons, such as low gold price or exhaustion of gold reserves, the ceramics plant will be viable and may continue to operate without the gold mine.
2) How do costs compare for IMMC/GBC tiles versus the cost of cut stone?
At this time, because GBC is not producing tile commercially, marketing information is being reviewed to determine the correct pricing for our recycled stone tile products. We expect the market to support the cost of our stone tile which could range in price from $1.00 to $50.00 per ft2.
3) How tall will the ceramics plant be and how will it look architecturally?
The ceramics plant will be about 50 ft tall except for a section that will be 75 ft tall in which tower-like equipment and structures will be housed. The conceptual renderings of the architectural features will be contained in the 2007 Revised Permit Application Volume IIA as Plate Nos. R9A, N9B, R10, N11A, and N11B. The elevations of the Ceramics Building in contained in Plate No. R12G.
4) Is coal fly ash hazardous?
Fly-ash is the inorganic residue left when coal is burned in a power plant to make electricity. Fly-ash comprises microscopic glass beads with trace amounts of silt and clay from the original coal sediments. The chemistry of the fly-ash residues can vary to some degree depending on the type and amount of mineral sediment that was originally in the coal.
All waste mineral feedstock offered to GBC is first analyzed in accordance with our screening protocol to determine its suitability for ceramics and also its chemical composition, including "heavy" metals (e.g., arsenic). The metals analyses are important in the screening protocol because at certain concentrations such metals may be considered potentially hazardous. If the feedstock analyses indicate the presence of certain metals in concentrations that are above regulatory limits (e.g., STLC), the waste mineral feedstock is rejected for further evaluation in the CeramextTM technology research and development program. Fly-ash materials are evaluated in accordance with our screening protocol. The fly-ash materials that GBC has used do not pose potential risks to human health or environment.
5) What is the price range of the tile and roof-tile?
We expect the wholesale market to support the cost of our stone tile which could range in price from $1.00 to $50.00 per ft2. Roof tile (clay, cement, ceramic, stone) can range from $1.00 to $10.00 per ft2.
6) What is the cost to a 1,200 ft2 house to tile 2 bathrooms and kitchen?
In general, tile for bathrooms and kitchens can have an installed cost from $1.00 - $50.00 per square foot. Installation costs for tile can be $5.00 - $10.00 per square foot. Assuming the house needs 500 square ft of tile installed and the tile cost is $5.00 per square foot and the installation cost is $5.00 per square foot, then total cost could be approximately $5,000.00 before any applicable taxes.
7) What is the cost to tile the roof on a 1,200 ft2 house?
The estimated cost would be $4,625.00 based on the cost of $250.00 per square and a square is a ten by ten ft area.
8) Can different colors of tile be produced from the Idaho-Maryland Mine tailings?
Different colors of tile can be produced by blending and mixing other materials with the IMMC mineral byproducts from the mine or residues from the water treatment system.
9) Can polished tile (e.g., tabletop samples) be used on floors?
Polished tile can be used on floors if it meets applicable safety requirements that are determined by conducting a "coefficient of friction" test. This test is used to determine how slippery a tile is to walk on when it is wet. The minimum "coefficient of friction" value for floor tiles is 0.6. The GBC polished tile meets the 0.6 safety requirements with a sand-blasted pattern and is being used in a high traffic commercial/residential installation.
1) What is the actual traffic route in and out of town for the IMMC and GBC, how many truck and cars per hour on a 24/7 basis?
The traffic route for project-related vehicles and trucks into and out of the site is via the Idaho-Maryland Road to State Route 49/20. For the combined IMMC and ceramic truck traffic, an average of approximately three trucks trips inbound and three truck trips outbound per hour have been estimated for the project, with a total of between 75 to 109 truck trips inbound and 75 to 109 truck trips outbound during a 24-hour period.
The IMMC, including the ceramics operation, will have approximately 400 employees, who will work on a shift basis and access the Idaho-Maryland Mine site from Bennett Street and the Centennial Drive extension largely during non-peak traffic hours. Employee traffic during a weekday morning commute may be expected to total about 31 inbound and no outbound auto trips from 7:00 am -- 8:00 am (peak traffic hour). Employee traffic during a weekday evening commute may be expected to total about two inbound trips and one outbound trip from 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm (peak traffic hour). Employee traffic during the 5:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. peak traffic hour may be expected to total about 5 inbound and 35 outbound trips. There are expected to be up to 400 inbound and 400 outbound employee vehicle trips during a 24-hour period as specified in 2007 Volume IA, Section 3, Revised Mineral Project Application, Appendix R-N, Employee Shift Schedule.
In addition to the large truck trips associated with mining and ceramics and employee vehicle trips, there will be other passenger vehicle and light truck traffic during a work day, estimated at approximately 65 inbound and 65 outbound trips within a 24-hour period. These trips would result from non-scheduled passenger vehicle trips to and from local businesses and restaurants, as well as various delivery trucks. These trips would access Centennial Drive from either Bennett Street or Idaho-Maryland Road.
The total number of all vehicle trips (i.e., large truck plus light truck plus passenger vehicle trips) on a weekday 24-hour basis is projected to be between 540 to 574 inbound and 540 to 574 outbound trips. The IMMC has developed an employee shift plan (refer to 2007 Permit Application Volume IA, Revised Mineral Project Application, Appendix R-N, Traffic Analysis) to ensure that project traffic is minimized during local am and pm commute peaks. In addition, as described in 2005 Permit Application Volume III, Appendix N, truck traffic will be managed to avoid local am and pm commute peaks.
2) How many trucks will go in and out during the "wee hours" of the morning? Will this be a noise issue for residents?
Assuming that "the wee hours" may be defined as between 12 Midnight and 5 a.m., approximately 15 truck trips could occur during this time frame (approximately three per hour). However, the trucks may also be rescheduled to avoid this time frame as may be necessary to abate potential noise impacts that may be identified by the City and its consultant as part of the noise analysis developed as part of the EIR. A revised Noise Analysis for the project is contained in Appendix R-J, Section 3, Revised Mineral Project Application, 2007 Volume IA.
1) What are the traffic impacts on East Bennett Road?
The City will be reviewing and evaluating the traffic analysis prepared for IMMC by Crane Transportation Group as part of the EIR. The traffic impacts on East Bennett Road will be estimated and addressed by the City and its consultants in the EIR to be prepared for the project that will be developed in accordance with the CEQA.
2) Will this project improve East Bennett Road?
The IMMC will, as part of its project, extend Centennial Drive to intersect with East Bennett Road. The intersection where the two roads meet will create a "T-intersection" where East Bennett Street curves, which may be considered an improvement.
3) Will the project affect the Brunswick Road/ East Bennett Road intersection; this intersection is close to requiring a light?
The traffic impacts near the Brunswick Road and East Bennett Road intersection will be studied by the City and summarized in the EIR, in accordance with the CEQA. Whether or not the intersection may need a light signal as a result of the proposed project will be addressed during the performance of those studies.
4) Will this project contribute to the Dorsey Drive improvement project?
At this time, it appears that the Dorsey Drive improvement project may proceed with funding independently of the project.
5) Will the project deteriorate the roads due to heavy truck traffic?
The Idaho-Maryland Road is currently designed for heavy truck traffic and is expected to be maintained in good condition for public and project use. Whether or not the Idaho-Maryland Mine Project may cause a measurable increase in road deterioration, as compared to that created by existing traffic, may be addressed in the EIR to be prepared by the City.
1) Why not answer questions directly at the workshop in a public format?
The format of the workshop (formal presentations and breakout sessions) is designed to accommodate a relatively large number of participants in an efficient manner who have diverse interests. The breakout sessions are arranged by topic so that participants can have their questions answered on an individual basis.
2) Western Nevada County was rated with the County's 10th worst air by the American Lung Association in recent years (The Union, 3-23-06). How much will IMMC worsen the air quality?
The IMMC understands concerns about the respiratory effects of increasing air pollution that occur with urbanization and meteorological conditions. The California Air Resources Board ("ARB") and the NSAQMD are responsible for administering air quality standards that are protective of human health and environment. The IMMC will comply with the applicable regulatory requirements of these agencies by employing Best Management Practices ("BMPs") during construction, and best available control technologies ("BACT") during operation to manage and control air emission quality.
3) What will happen to the Hap Warnke Lumber Mill?
The proposed alignment of Spring Hill Drive and Centennial Road will cross through the Hap Warnke Lumber Mill site and may require the mill to relocate, reconfigure their operations, or close their business. At this time, IMMC is unaware of which of these options are being considered by the business owners.
4) Will the jobs be union jobs?
It is the workforce, not the IMMC, which will make the decision as to whether or not the jobs at the Idaho-Maryland Mine or at Golden Bear Ceramics will be union or non-union. Workers have the right to involve the National Labor Relations Board to facilitate a vote to unionize.
5) What is the unemployment rate in Grass Valley and, assuming there is a low unemployment rate, will the employees to fill the mine's 400 jobs be imported from outside of Nevada County?
According the California Employment Development Department the April 2007 unemployment rate for Nevada County was estimated at 4.8 percent and the unemployment rate for Grass Valley was estimated at 4.3 percent. These unemployment rates are considered relatively low.
To fill the jobs at the mine and ceramics plant, IMMC plans to develop a job training program to enable local residents to be employed at the mine and ceramics plant when they open. A socioeconomic analysis was developed and is contained in the 2005 Permit Application Volume III, Appendix M that addresses this and other matters. The City, as part of the EIR, will develop a similar analysis.
6) Will IMMC use solar panels on the south-facing buildings to help reduce electrical energy consumption?
The IMMC is investigating the use of solar panels and will be evaluating their inclusion in our project as part of final building design. The IMMC will be evaluating various ways of developing an energy efficient business complex as part of final design.
7) What is the function of the New Brunswick silo?
In the past the silo was a storage bin for ore and development rock from the mine. The silo will not be used in our future project, but it will remain as a landmark and historical remnant of mining's past.
8) Will a percentage of healthy trees that would be affected by construction be used to plant in the green-spaces?
The 2005 Permit Application Volume III contains Appendix B, Preliminary Arborists Report (Report) that summarizes the tree inventories (by species) for each of the three project sites, tree removal recommendations in site development areas, and unaffected areas. The Report was updated for the 2007 Revised Permit Application and is contained in Appendix R-B in Volume IA Section 2, Revised Formal Development Review Application. The total number of trees with 8-inch or greater diameter trunks on the Idaho-Maryland site is 6,013 with 4,129 in the area outside of the area proposed for development and 1,884 within the proposed development footprint. The total number of trees that are expected to be removed is 1,180, or 20 percent of the total number of trees on that site. Of those that will need to be removed, a total of 316, or 26 percent, are in poor or very poor health. Approximately 335 trees (27 percent of those removed) will be planted in the landscaped site areas on the site. Relocation of existing trees to the unaffected or landscaped areas is not anticipated.
9) Will IMMC offer community replanting to balance the number of trees that will be lost during construction?
The City of Grass Valley and its consultants may evaluate whether or not a community replanting program would be appropriate project mitigation, as part of the EIR.
10) How can the project be used to off-set the carbon that will be generated by operations?
The City and its consultants may evaluate how the project may off-set the carbon that may be generated by operations as part of the EIR. It is expected that the City will address requirements set forth in AB32 which is the known as the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006.
11) When will new project information be made public?
The IMMC will submit the revised project applications to the City in late May 2007. Once the City accepts the revised project applications as complete, they will be posted to the IMMC website and the City will post them to theirs. Hard copies of the revised project applications will be available in the Public Libraries as well.
12) What are the new energy consumption projections for the ceramics plant and mine for natural gas and electricity?
The GBC expects to use approximately 1,100 million ft3 of natural gas annually and 150 gigawatts hour/year of electrical power.
13) Will there be a cost comparison prepared for electrical power versus natural gas that addresses the variability of prices over time?
As part of the final project design, a cost comparison will be prepared to compare costs for natural gas and electricity use. However, natural gas is typically preferred in the ceramics industry when high temperatures (e.g., 2200º F and above) are required to vitrify ceramic materials because the heat is more reliable and controllable.
14) Why does the permit process take so long?
As part of the CEQA process, the City decided to prepare an MEA for the Idaho-Maryland Mine Project prior to and in addition to the preparation of an Initial Study and Environmental Impact Report. Therefore, there is a three step environmental review process that is a prerequisite to the City issuing a Conditional Use Permit for the project. The CEQA process is structured to allow for public participation in each of these steps. The permit process, therefore, takes longer than some people may desire.
15) How will the project schedule be made available?
The IMMC project schedule will be part of the revised project applications that will be submitted to the City in late May 2007. The City will revise its CEQA and SMARA schedule after the revised project applications are accepted as complete. Thereafter, the City will make the schedule and the revised project application information available to the public.
1) Could we put reference points on the project maps so they are easier to read?
The IMMC has updated its Plate 1: Project Location which will be contained in the Revised Applications. The revised figure includes the following reference points: Hills Flat Lumber, Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital, 49er Fun Park, DeMartini RV Sales and the medical facilities along Whispering Pines Lane.
2) Will there be a "plan view" available of the underground decline where it crosses Crown Point Circle to the New Brunswick Shaft?
The IMMC will develop a "plan view" of the decline as part of the CEQA process.
3) Does the manufacturing process create a corrosive effect on the equipment?
The process is not expected to create any corrosion concerns. If required, specific pieces of equipment will be engineered from materials resistant to corrosion.