Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Gold Mining 2009.

Underground mining operations in Ballarat, Australia.

After being closed for nearly half a century, gold mines along the Switzerland Trail Railroad are about to be reopened. The price of gold has closed above $1200 per ounce, making it now profitable.

[It's worth noting here that this is not the first indication of a resurgence in gold mining in our area. In our immediate neighborhood, Tom Hendricks and Calais Resources have been running an environmentally friendly operation for years now, with the Cross / Caribou Gold and Silver Mine near Nederland.]

Aurora Gold Corp, based in Zug, Switzerland, has initiated the process of going back in.

I heard about this from Malachi, who sent me a link to the story at the Boulder County Business Report:
The Front Range Gold Project consists of 85 patented and 21 unpatented lode claims covering approximately 480 acres, or about three-quarters of a square mile. The project is in the Gold Hill Mining District nine miles west of the city of Boulder and includes 18 past producing mines. These mines produced gold and silver from narrow quartz veins.

...Work would begin at the Cash and Rex mines. The Cash mine has an inclined shaft 761 feet deep, with more than 6,220 feet of drifting on nine levels. The Rex mine includes an inclined shaft with more than 2,500 feet of drifting on six levels. The Who Do, St. Joe and Black Cloud mines also would be worked. They have more than 3,000 feet of underground workings on three levels.

The U.S. government's War Production Board halted mining in the district during Word War II. After the war, most mines remained closed. The Cash mine was one of the few that reopened. The Rex mine was discovered in the 1950s. By 1964 development at the Cash mine had reached the eastern limits of the mine property, and both mines were closed by their owner with "ore in the back," awaiting higher gold prices.

The demise of the Switzerland Trail / Denver, Boulder & Western Railroad arrived because the mines were no longer producing enough ore, at the level of technology available in the early 20th century. I'll watch with great interest to see how the ore is managed and transported now.

Denise Grimm, land use planner with Boulder County quoted in the Business Report article, generously provided me with information for mapping. Parcel owners are Mount Royale Ventures, LLC, Southern Cross Prospecting Company and Mi Vida Enterprise. This is a fairly extensive network of mines.

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