Home Back Issues August 2011 Gold rush in Malheur County

Gold rush in Malheur County

| Print |  Email
Articles - August 2011
Wednesday, July 20, 2011

By Ben Jacklet

0811_GoldRushIngMalheurA Canadian mining company is gathering permits and underground data in preparation for developing the first large-scale gold mine in Oregon in decades, as the price for gold hovers at $1,600 per ounce.

Calico Resources, based in Vancouver, BC, has purchased an option to buy mineral rights to the Grassy Mountain site south of Vale, in an unpopulated portion of Malheur County. Calico President William Wagener says the rough plan is to spend three years on exploration and then build a 100-employee operation to remove and process 1,000 tons of material per day. He estimates the company would invest $80 million to $100 million in the project, and he insists that no pollution would be left behind.

“We take great pride in being able to design a mine with reclamation in mind, to operate it in an environmentally responsible manner, and then close it and make it pretty,” Wagener says. “We view this as a matter of pride, to do things right.”

A variety of companies including Newmont Mining, the world’s largest mining company, have spent $33 million exploring the area, and drilling over 400 holes. Low gold prices of $250 to $300 per ounce halted exploration there in the 1990s, but gold prices have risen steadily amid the economic uncertainty of recent years. At the current price, the estimated 924,000 ounces of gold at Grassy Mountain are worth $1.3 billion.

The U.S. is the world’s third-largest producer of gold, behind China and Australia. About 80% of domestic gold is mined in large open pits in Nevada, where loose environmental regulations enabled vast exploitation. Gold was big business in Eastern Oregon from the 19th century through the 1950s, but growing unease about pollution has shut down the industry in recent decades.

Wagener says the strong price for gold and improved mining technology would allow Calico to remove Grassy Mountain gold selectively, without creating a huge open pit and contaminated tailings ponds. The company is planning a 150-acre operation, compared to past plans for an 1800-acre footprint.

“Technology has moved on,” says Wagener. “You can do a lot more with smaller stuff than you could before.”

Wagener expects exploration to last about three years, followed by five to eight years of mining (depending on how much gold they find) and an eighteen-month cleanup that would remove all buildings and cap all disturbed areas. Calico has received approval from Oregon’s Department of Geology and Mineral Industries but still needs to earn permits from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality.

 

Comments   

 
Barbara Sidway
0 #1 Owner/Operator, Geiser Grand HotelBarbara Sidway 2011-08-15 12:58:14
We are ready for this second Gold Rush--and this time with environmental sensitivity, hooray! The Geiser Grand Hotel, standing proudly on Main Street in Historic Baker City since 1889, welcomes you all!
Quote | Report to administrator
 
 
pat phillips
0 #2 owner/operator small business in Malheur Countypat phillips 2011-08-15 13:19:59
we are pleased to see that Baker Co is happy. Malheur County is pretty excited too. Now, if the environmental groups don't screw it up, we may get some economic recovery in Malheur County
Quote | Report to administrator
 
 
Guest
0 #3 equipment operatorGuest 2012-09-17 15:07:21
good jobs for malhuer couny and good for nyssa oregon
Quote | Report to administrator
 
 
Guest
0 #4 EmploymentGuest 2013-03-02 16:04:51
Interested in working in grassy mountain. When will you start hiring and what positions?
Quote | Report to administrator
 

More Articles

Launch

October 2014
Thursday, September 25, 2014
BY JESSICA RIDGWAY

October's Launch article features Soul Kitchen, Easy Company and Slick's Big Time BBQ.


Read more...

The Rail Baron

October 2014
Thursday, September 25, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER

Oil is gushing out of the U.S. and Canada, and much of it is coming from places that don’t have pipeline infrastructure. So it’s being shipped by rail.


Read more...

Political Clout

November/December 2014
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
BY KIM MOORE

Businesses spend billions of dollars each year trying to influence political decision makers by piling money into campaigns.


Read more...

Fork & Bottle

October 2014
Thursday, September 25, 2014

National media can’t get enough of Oregon’s pinot noir, artisan-food purveyors and lively, independent film scene.


Read more...

Podcast: Testing for Emotional Intelligence with John Hersey

Contributed Blogs
Friday, September 19, 2014
ivbU3sIXBY TOM COX | OB BLOGGER

How can you tell if you, a peer, a subordinate or a job candidate has the emotional intelligence needed to do well?


Read more...

OB Poll: Wineries and groceries

News
Friday, October 24, 2014

24-winethumbA majority of respondents agreed: Local vineyards should remain Oregon-owned and quality is the most important factor when determining where to eat or buy groceries.


Read more...

Shuffling the Deck

November/December 2014
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
BY JON BELL

Oregon tribes still bet on casinos.


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