Guest Post by David Cornberg 

Peak Gold LLC commissioned Michael Minor & Associates, Portland Oregon, to do a noise and vibration study of the desired ore haul route from the Manh Choh mine to the Fort Knox Mine.  The report is dated December 2021.  The measurements taken for the study were done on 8/29, 8/30, 8/31 and 9/1 of 2021.

This report has insurmountable limitations as a document to either red- or green-light the ore haul proposal.  


First, no ore haul trucks of the proposed configuration were using the route at any time during the study.

Second, the ore haul trucks are stated several times to be comparable to heavy trucks already on the route.  This comparison is false.  The ore haul truck configuration recently released by Kinross not only was not available when this report was written, it clearly shows a truck unlike any in use on the route.

Third, the study did not sample noise at multiple sites during an entire year which includes a significant increase in traffic during the summer months and a significant difference in sound transmission when trees are with and without leaves and when air is warm and very cold.  

Fourth, the study asked machines, not people, whether or not the noise and vibration is disturbing.  This approach, standardizing and quantifying stimuli so they can be measured by machine rather than by personal account, avoids the diversity of human thresholds of sensitivity.  

And, fifth, the hearing and health impacts of noise and vibration accumulation are mentioned only in passing.

No Value

In my view, this report has absolutely no value for red-lighting or green-lighting the ore haul proposal.  This report should not be considered a valid assessment of noise and vibration issues on the proposed ore haul route.

The Kinross/Peak Gold Manh Choh Fort Knox ore haul proposal endangers both thousands of local residents who live on or near and use the proposed route and many tourists who use the proposed route. A serious but neglected issue for many local residents is the prospect of enormous trucks, running both full and empty, 24 hours a day, which includes the hours of normal, healthy sleep.  Kinross has provided no valid scientific study of this issue.

The necessary relationship between sound sleep and health is well-established by many sciences such as neurology, psychology, physiology and psychiatry.  The direct impact of noise on health is a more recently scientifically validated relationship.  “The World Health Organization (WHO) recently concluded that road traffic noise increases the risk for ischemic heart disease and potentially other cardiometabolic diseases, including stroke, obesity, and diabetes.”  (“Adverse Cardiovascular Effects of Traffic Noise with a Focus on Nighttime Noise and the New WHO Noise Guidelines” Annual Review of Public Health Vol. 41:309-328).

In the same article, The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders states, “Long or repeated exposure to sound at or above 85 decibels can cause hearing loss.”  Also, “Novel experimental studies found noise to be associated with oxidative stress–induced vascular and brain damage…and vascular/brain infiltration with inflammatory cells. Noise-induced pathophysiology was more pronounced in response to nighttime as compared with daytime noise.”  From the same article: “The EPA calculated the safe noise level for the public to prevent hearing loss to be a 70-decibel time-weighted average for a 24-hour period.”  

The following supports this level: “Continued exposure to noise above 70 dBA (adjusted decibels) over time will cause hearing loss.”  (From “International Noise Awareness Day”)  Studies have found “that nighttime noise is indeed an important risk factor for some CVDs [Cardio-Vascular Diseases] and that intermittent noise with peaks clearly above the background level during the nighttime may be particularly harmful”. (Public Health article cited above)  

In its “Trucking Overview,” Kinross states “Noise level will not exceed 80 dBA which is the EPA required standard”.  Since Kinross misstates the EPA standard and plans 24/7 trucking, how can this exposure not be a potential cause of adverse health conditions for many local residents?  

Three Mitigations Are Possible

  1. No ore haul.
  2. Only twenty trucks on the route at any one time with no permission to increase that number at any time in the future.
  3. No ore haul from 10 pm to 7 am on any day of the year. (This is a legally enforced quiet time in other areas of the country whose noise ordinances I’ve researched.)  

Numbers 2 and 3 can be used together.

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