The Emgold Mining Corporation no longer lists the Idaho-Maryland Mine as a current project to its investors, the project’s website has been removed, and the company does not have the requisite rights to pursue the project.
But Emgold’s local manager said the project isn’t dead.
“We elected to pull the stuff down so nobody gets confused,” said David Watkinson, Emgold’s Grass Valley-based president. “We don’t want to promote a project that is on hold and doesn’t have a lease in place.”
Emgold has been trying to revive the mine east of Grass Valley for more than seven years to take advantage of an estimated 472,000 ounces of gold. Watkinson has estimated that reopening the mine would generate about 600 jobs, half of which he said would be filled by residents.
But Grass Valley City Councilman Howard Levine said most people consider the project moribund.
“I always hoped we would be a community that could be leaders and stewards of our opportunity and demonstrate to the rest of the world how things could be done,” Levine said. “I’m not sure Emgold will ever attain that level of success.”
The project was first sent to the city of Grass Valley in 2005. In 2009, a draft environmental report drew criticism; the city declared the report insufficient and required Emgold to revise its project. That now-scrapped report estimated the net revenue to the city’s general fund created by the mine would be about $750,000 per year, once it reached full production.
In April 2010, Watkinson updated the project plan, substantially changing projections for traffic patterns, air quality, mine water, impact on nearby wells, the crushing of waste rock and noise. Last March, the city council gave Emgold a deadline of Sept. 13, 2012, to come up with the funds needed to restart the environmental review, or the application would be deemed withdrawn.
Nearly a year ago, in February 2013, a deadline passed for Emgold to renegotiate the lease and option to purchase approximately 2,750 acres of mineral rights and 91 acres of surface rights associated with the project with the BET Trust.
“If it doesn’t get renewed, at some point we may drop it,” Watkinson said. “But there is no decision at this time.”
In September, Emgold sold off 18 acres of the prospective mine site to raise capital.
Watkinson said investors are waiting to see how the economy affects the price of gold, which went up in markets Friday, after having a difficult 2013. Gold rose $17.50, or 1.4 percent, to $1,246.90 an ounce Friday on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
“Investors are just waiting. No one is sure if it will improve as the U.S. economy improves,” Watkinson said.
“Everyone is playing a waiting game right now.”
To contact Staff Writer Christopher Rosacker, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4236.