Commission OK’s mine—sort of

The New Era Mine can continue to operate, but it must obtain an updated permit, the Butte County Planning Commission decided April 10. The gold mine, which in recent months had gotten an infusion of capital and had gone from a mom-and-pop operation to full-fledged industrial enterprise, was told it was not adhering to its original 1982 permit and would have to file for another.

That will include some kind of “focused environmental assessment,” said Commissioner Chuck Nelson in a subsequent phone interview, quite possibly an environmental-impact report.

Although mine operators clearly had exceeded their permit, the commissioners were reluctant to shut down a business with some 20 employees that, according to state regulatory officials, was making a “good-faith effort” to operate in an environmentally safe manner, Nelson said.

Residents along Dry Creek Canyon, east of Butte College, had protested the mine located at the end of their road, charging it was operating illegally and polluting Dry Creek. They have two weeks to appeal the commission’s decision to the Board of Supervisors.