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

Photo Log: Waterfront Blues Festival

The Latest
Thursday, July 09, 2015
bluesfestthumbBY JASON E. KAPLAN | STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

The sweltering weather didn't keep the crowds away. Although the numbers were down slightly from last year, the Oregon Food Bank raised $850,636 to fight hunger.  About 80,000 people attended despite temperatures in the upper 90s.


Read more...

Business partnerships: taming the three-headed monster

Contributed Blogs
Monday, July 06, 2015
070615-businessmarriagefail-thumbBY KATHERINE HEEKIN | OB GUEST COLUMNIST

Picking a business partner is not much different than choosing a spouse or life partner, and the business break-up can be as heart-wrenching and costly as divorce.


Read more...

Child care challenge

September 2015
Wednesday, August 26, 2015
0927OHSUhealthystarts-thumbBY KIM MOORE AND LINDA BAKER

Child care in Oregon is expensive and hard to find. We delved into the numbers and talked to a few executives and managers about day care costs, accessibility and work-life balance.


Read more...

Money Troubles

September 2015
Thursday, August 20, 2015
BY DAN COOK

The state’s angel investing fund gets hammered in Salem.


Read more...

Farm in a Box

July/August 2015
Friday, July 10, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER

Most of the food Americans consume is trucked in from hundreds of miles away. Eric Wilson, co-founder and CEO of Gro-volution, wants to change that. So this past spring, the Air Force veteran and former greenhouse manager started work on an alternative farming system he claims is more efficient than conventional agriculture, and also shortens the distance between the consumer and the farm.


Read more...

Ranking the airlines that fly PDX

The Latest
Friday, August 14, 2015
airlinesthumbBY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

17 airlines make stops at Portland International Airport, but not all are created equal when it comes to customer service.


Read more...

Fueling Up for the Climb

July/August 2015
Friday, July 10, 2015
BY GREGG MORRIS

Rita Hansen aims to scale natural gas vehicle innovation.


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