Sitting on a gold mine: New owner exploring underground at Idaho-Maryland Mine
Rise Gold Corp has begun exploratory drilling at western Nevada County’s Idaho-Maryland Mine in an effort to determine how much gold remains at the site.
Drilling began last month. But Ben Mossman, Rise Gold’s chief executive officer, said the company isn’t reopening the site for gold mining — at least not yet.
Rise is an “exploration company,” he said, focused on proving the existence of mineral resources.
“Right now, we’re drilling,” he said. “And based on the results, hopefully we’ll be able to raise more money to do more drilling.”
“Right now, we’re drilling. And based on the results, hopefully we’ll be able to raise more money to do more drilling.” Ben MossmanRise Gold CEO
Idaho-Maryland was the second-largest gold mine in the country before it was shut down by the federal government in 1942, according to Mossman.
Rise, a U.S.-based company which has its head office in Canada, bought the property for $2 million from the BET Group in January, which had previously leased the site to Emgold Mining Corp. The purchase included about 93 acres of surface land and 2,750 acres of mineral rights.
“You can’t buy anything like this,” Mossman said. “There is nothing like this for sale.”
According to the company’s website, Rise “believes there is significant potential for additional gold resources left unmined in the existing workings and … below the historic mine workings.”
EXPLORING, ‘THE BIGGEST HURDLE’
The property, in Nevada County’s jurisdiction and in Grass Valley’s sphere of influence, is zoned light industrial. Tom Last, Grass Valley’s development director, said when projects are proposed in the city’s sphere, property owners are required to first submit applications to the city. If Grass Valley isn’t interested in annexing a parcel at the time of a project, he said, the city would pass the application along to the county.
According to the county’s zoning ordinance, mineral exploration is allowed on light industrial parcels without a permit. Brian Foss, director of the county’s planning department, said Mossman contacted him prior to drilling to let the county know of Rise Gold’s plans.
Restarting mining operations at Idaho-Maryland would require an extensive permitting process, which Mossman said would be difficult, but not impossible. He said it definitely wouldn’t be the most challenging part of the project.
“The exploration is the biggest hurdle … but this could be one of the highest-grade deposits in the world,” he said.
Rise is aware of many of the environmental concerns expressed by community members when Emgold was attempting to revive the mine, Mossman said.
“There are solutions to those things,” he said.
Emgold, which tried to revive the mine beginning in 2005, stopped listing it as a current project to its investors in January 2014. Emgold tried unsuccessfully to capitalize on what it estimated at 472,000 ounces of gold in the mine.
HISTORY LESSON PUT TO WORK
Original maps and business documents left over from when the mine was in operation by the Idaho Maryland Mining Co. were included in the sale of the property, Mossman said, which give Rise a good basis for beginning the exploration process.
“If those (documents) hadn’t been kept, the property would be useless,” he said.
Over the past six months, Mossman and his team has been scanning the old maps of the mine and converting them into three-dimensional, digital renderings. The modern maps give Rise Gold a better idea of where to start exploratory drilling with a limited budget, he said.
Rise hired a private security company to patrol the area and clean up a handful of homeless camps that had been on the property when the company purchased it, according to Mossman.
For now, he said, the company’s goal is “to be silent,” and, as much as possible, not disturb neighbors with the sound of drilling.