A gold mine in Nevada County, California which ceased operations in 1956 may reopen after experts suggest that it may still contain one of the world’s highest-grade gold reserves.
The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the future of the 160-year-old Idaho-Maryland Mine with its 73 miles of tunnels could be decided next week by Nevada County officials who are scheduled to decide whether the rights to mine gold at the complex are still valid.
The verdict will determine whether a mining company headquartered in Vancouver, Canada can proceed with plans to reopen the storied facility.
During its run, the mine unearthed some of the largest underground treasure California has seen, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
$4 billion worth of gold was pried from the California gold mine
In total, more than $4 billion worth of gold, by today’s prices, was pried from the site, near Grass Valley in Nevada County.
The Idaho-Maryland was once California’s greatest gold mine by annual production and the largest employer in Nevada County. The mine was closed in World War II so that its human resources could be used to assist in America’s victory.
The mine opened for a short period after the war but was again called to sacrifice due the Bretton Woods Agreement, designed to stabilize the post-war world economy and rebuild Europe.
The fixed price of gold at $35 per oz made the mining of American gold unprofitable. After nearly a century of operation and an immense contribution to the economy, through the production of 2.4 million oz of gold, the mine was closed in 1956.
The Canadian company Rise Gold wants to reopen the mine after recent exploration efforts at the site revealed lucrative deposits of gold, potentially worth billions. The fact that tunnels have already been built, they say, gives the company a leg up at getting at the anticipated fortune.
Canadian Rise Gold moves to reopen gold mine
Representatives of Rise Gold began acquiring property and mineral rights in the area in 2017. Recently they have been working to assure the community concerned about the environmental impact of the gold mine that modern mining is different, and much less destructive, than in the past.
“We aren’t reproducing the same type of operation that existed before,” Joe Mullin, president and CEO of Rise Gold, told the San Francisco Chronicle.
Drilling would take place hundreds, if not thousands, of feet below the surface and be virtually unnoticeable, according to the environmental documents prepared for the county. Most of the noise from above-ground activities would fall within the county’s noise standards, the documents suggest.
Also, today’s mining laws are much more restrictive in terms of cleanup.
Mullin said the operation would yield more than 300 full-time jobs, with pay in excess of $140,000, including benefits, and produce more property tax than any other business in the county.
Extracting gold from within the earth remains a difficult and expensive endeavor, mining experts say. The handful of gold operations that still exist in California are mostly pit mines, where the valuable metal is plucked out near the surface.