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

Crowdfunding 2.0

News
Tuesday, December 02, 2014
120214-crowdfund-thumbBY LINDA BAKER

A conversation with attorney Erich Merrill about the latest way to raise money from large groups of people.


Read more...

Will Medford Ever Be Cool?

February 2015
Friday, January 23, 2015
BY DAN COOK | PHOTOS BY JASON E. KAPLAN

A real-estate developer and a Lithia Motors executive aim to revamp the city's forlorn downtown.


Read more...

Editor's Letter: Power Play

January-Powerbook 2015
Thursday, December 11, 2014

There’s a fascinating article in the December issue of the Harvard Business Review about a profound power shift taking place in business and society. It’s a long read, but the gist revolves around the tension between “old power” and “new power” as a driver of transformation.


Read more...

Imperial Palate

February 2015
Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Power Lunch at the Imperial.


Read more...

Powerbook Perspective

January-Powerbook 2015
Friday, December 12, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER

A conversation with Oregon state economist Josh Lehner.


Read more...

The city as startup

Guest Blog
Wednesday, January 14, 2015
011415 citystartup-thumbBY NISHANT BHAJARIA | OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR

Startups in the growth phase are associated with a fresh infusion of capital — human and financial — a curiosity factor and products to disrupt the market and drive demand. Portland’s economy gives off the same aroma.


Read more...

Old school: Paulsen's Pharmacy maintains old fashion ethos

The Latest
Thursday, December 18, 2014
121914-pharmacy-thumbBY MEGHAN NOLT

VIDEO: Under the radar — complete with a soda counter, the traditional Paulsen's Pharmacy looks to compete with big box retailers.


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