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

Downtime with the executive director of Greater Portland Inc.

April 2015
Thursday, March 26, 2015

Janet LaBar, Executive director, Greater Portland Inc.


Read more...

ZoomCare rolls out new on-demand health clinics

News
Monday, March 02, 2015
zoomcarethumbBY KIM MOORE |  OB RESEARCH EDITOR

Portland-based healthcare provider ZoomCare said it plans to “remake American healthcare” by expanding its on-demand urgent care model to emergency, surgery, dental and primary care, among others.


Read more...

Are wolves good for business?

Contributed Blogs
Friday, March 06, 2015
030615-wolf-thumbBY JEFF DELKIN | OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR

As a local business owner, I believe it’s important to build our economy on a platform of conservation values.  


Read more...

Oregon Business expands events portfolio

The Latest
Friday, March 27, 2015
htctfacebookBY OB STAFF

New events series brings magazine to life.


Read more...

City announces plans for Portland summer-league baseball team

News
Tuesday, March 10, 2015
IMG 3888BY JACOB PALMER | OB DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

Baseball is returning to Portland and city officials are hoping economic opportunity comes with it.


Read more...

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...

The Road to Reinvention

April 2015
Friday, March 27, 2015
BY AMY MILSHTEIN

Damian Smith bets on changing himself — and Portland — through consulting.


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