Going for gold

By Sarah Pridgeon

Coeur Mining, a Chicago-based company with a focus on precious metals, is set to explore for gold in an area of Crook County once popular with mining enterprises. There’s a relatively small chance that gold will be found, says Mike Gosse, District Ranger, and an even smaller chance it will evolve into a mining operation.

“This is just an exploration project. Sitting down with the company officials, it was very interesting, at least to me, that there is about a one in one hundred chance that this exploration project actually finds anything that would be economically viable to pursue,” says Gosse.

“Then, even if they do find something, there’s only another one in a hundred chance that it would actually be developed.”

The project, titled the Poplar Mineral Exploration Project, will be based around 17 miles east of Sundance and around a mile from the South Dakota border, in what’s known as the Mineral Hill area.

“It’s been a very heavily mined area in the past, there are several mining claims in that area and several old mines,” Gosse says.

After receiving the plan of operations in December, 2017, the Forest Service has met twice now with Coeur Mining officials, Gosse says, and the current proposal is to begin exploration in 2019. At first, the company had thought it would get going in September, but the date has been pushed back.

“Their proposal is exploration at this point. It’s six exploratory drill site holes, around three-and-a-half inches in diameter,” Gosse says.

“Less than an acre of land is involved, less than a third of a mile in new road construction, so a pretty small footprint and a pretty small scale project, exploratory only at this point. This is not a mining operation.”

The Forest Service has not yet given final approval to the project, Gosse notes.

“They submitted a plan of operation to us in December, 2017. They are currently revising that plan of operation, so we’re waiting for them to submit their revised plan of operation before it would be approved,” he says.

A heritage survey meanwhile looks for culturally significant items such as tribal relics, which the Forest Service would be sensitive to not disturbing. The survey, says Gosse, ensures the project does not disturb such sites.

“We are still waiting for our heritage resource consultation yet, as well. That heritage survey work won’t be completed until June this year.”