Oregon gold rush isn’t what it used to be

| Print |  Email
Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Goldbars.jpg

STATEWIDE There may be gold in them thar Oregon hills, but nobody’s mining it. Even with gold prices hovering at all-time highs in the neighborhood of $1,000 per ounce, the same dozen or so mining companies that have held mining claims for years continue to pass on Oregon while looking elsewhere, usually overseas, to capitalize on the global gold rush.

Gold spurred the settlement of northeastern and southwestern Oregon in the 19th century, but the industry has never recovered from high labor costs, tightening state regulations and the downfall of gold prices. Those prices have bounced back spectacularly as the dollar has weakened, but there are no mining companies in Oregon positioned to capitalize, says Gary Lynch of the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries.

“There’s very little exploration going on in the state, and without exploration you won’t see much mining,” says Lynch. “The industry went overseas about 10 years ago, and they may be hesitant to come back because of permitting requirements.”

Richard O’Brien, the CEO of Newmont Mining, the second-largest mining company in the world, was born in Portland, but his Denver-based company has ventures further overseas each year. Newmont formerly leased a property called Grassy Mountain, southwest of Vale, but the company wrote off its $33.8 million investment in Oregon in 1996 in favor of development in countries such as Ghana, where Newmont is building schools near its mines to train future workers.

Oregon’s days as a gold producer are long gone, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t companies cashing in on the skyrocketing metals prices. One example is Esco Corp. of Portland, a privately held manufacturer of heavy mining equipment that has seen sales growth in South America and Africa.

“We’ve definitely been benefiting from these strong prices and from the increase in global demand,” says Jon Owens, Esco’s vice president for mining and construction products. “There’s been a lot of expansion of existing mines, and when production increases we benefit.”                                                   

BEN JACKLET



Have an opinion? E-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 

More Articles

Beam Me Up

April 2015
Thursday, March 19, 2015
BY DAN COOK | Photos by Jason E. Kaplan

An alliance of developers, academics and timber industry executives wants to position Oregon as a front runner in the glamorous new world of wooden skyscrapers.


Read more...

5 ways successful people kickstart the day

The Latest
Thursday, April 02, 2015
coffeethumbBY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

Are mornings the most productive part of the day?  We ask five successful executives how they get off to a good start.


Read more...

Epitaph for a Boondoggle

April 2015
Friday, March 27, 2015
BY JOE CORTRIGHT

The CRC is a cautionary tale about how we plan for, finance and invest in transportation infrastructure.


Read more...

Power Players

April 2015
Friday, March 27, 2015
BY ROBERT MULLIN

A new energy-sharing agreement sparks concerns about independence and collaboration in the region's utility industry.


Read more...

6 highlights from the Craft Brewers Conference

The Latest
Friday, April 17, 2015
thumbPHOTOS BY  JASON E. KAPLAN

The 32nd annual CBC attracted a record number of attendees (11,000)  to the Oregon Convention Center.


Read more...

Foundations perspective

May 2015
Monday, April 27, 2015
BY KIM MOORE

A conversation with Martha Richards, executive director of the James F. & Marion L. Miller Foundation.


Read more...

4 highlights of the MLS labor deal

The Latest
Wednesday, March 04, 2015
timbersthumbBY JACOB PALMER | OB DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

On Wednesday night, a couple days ahead of the 2015 season kickoff, Major League Soccer and the Players Union reached an agreement.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS