Idaho-Maryland might live again: Canadian firm has eye on millions |

Idaho-Maryland might live again: Canadian firm has eye on millions

Courtesy of Searls Historical Library Two miners rode an electric trolley and pulled a string of ore cars at the 2,000-foot-level of the Idaho-Maryland Mine when this photo taken sometime before World War II.
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There’s gold in an old Grass Valley mine, and a Canadian firm hopes to get it out.

Grass Valley’s Idaho-Maryland Mine could be back in operation in two or three years if Emgold Mining Corporation of Vancouver hits a vein.

There are 1.3 million ounces of gold that could be brought out of a reopened Idaho-Maryland Mine in Grass Valley, said Bill Witte, an engineer and president and CEO of Emgold. That’s more than $450 million at $353 per troy ounce, which is what gold was trading at Wednesday.

Nevada County ore is metallurgically desirable, Witte said. “It’s a clean ore with no arsenic in it,” he said. “That’s why we’re drawn to it.”

The project would need between 95 and 115 employees initially and could increase to 175 to 200, Witte said.

Emgold took out a new lease on the property in June 2002, and commissioned a study to see what they’d need to do to operate a successful gold mine at the old site. Now they plan to apply for a drilling use permit – a three- to six-month process – from either Nevada County or the city of Grass Valley to do surface diamond drilling at six sites, Witte said.

It might take the company six to nine months to get 750 feet below ground to find out how much gold there might be, he said. The company’s mineral rights begin at 250 feet below the surface and cover 2,750 acres underground, Witte said.

“We hope to confirm where the quartz sites are,” Witte said. “We hope to hit some gold.”

If they do, the company then would apply for a mining use permit from a combination of state and local agencies, which could take one or two years to complete, Witte said.

Joe Heckel, Grass Valley’s community development director, said the city had received inquiries from the Canadian company about what permits are needed to start drilling on the eastern side of the city. The city’s ordinances do have a provision that allows for mining, he said.

“We’ve heard a lot of negative things about California and how hard it is to get permits to develop,” Witte said. But researchers for the corporation discovered that 37 gold mining companies in California applied for use permits and all received them. “I find that rather encouraging.”

A new tunnel would have to accommodate 40-ton trucks that could take out 1,000 to 1,200 tons a day, Witte said. New mining equipment is much larger in years past, he said.

The company also hopes to build a visitor center for people to learn more about mining techniques from a century ago and today.

Witte said he and other employees have kept in touch with people who worked at the old Idaho-Maryland Mine.

One plan being considered would put a portal and tunnel on the 56-acre parcel on the mine’s major property off Idaho-Maryland Road near Wolf Creek.

“We’re exploring the northwest portion of Idaho-Maryland Mine,” the vicinity of the famous Idaho-Maryland Number One vein that produced a million ounces out of a million tons of ground, Witte said.

“That’s a spectacular ratio,” Witte said. “We’re going to be testing fairly close to where that million ounces came from.”

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