Reserves at Haile Gold Mine could yield more than $5 billion
Company chief: ‘Sits on one of the most significant trends of gold in U.S.’
Mining companies scramble to Carolina Slate Belt for more
A mining company has triggered a modern gold rush in the U.S. after discovering 3.1million ounces of the precious metal near a small South Carolina town. Canadian firm Romarco Minerals Inc expects to pour its first gold bar in early 2014 after re-opening the historic Haile Gold Mine this year near Kershaw.
At today’s prices, the mine could yield more than $5 billion if estimates of the mine’s reserves are proven correct. Once environmental impact studies and permits are complete, Haile will be the only modern gold mine operating east of the Mississippi River.
It will also be the first since the Kennecott Minerals mine closed in Ridgeway, South Carolina, in 1999, Romarco’s chief executive Diane Garrett told Reuters this week. Based on the gold reserves found in samples, the Toronto company estimates it has 3.1million ounces of the metal at Haile.
The mine will produce an average of 150,000 ounces of gold a year for five years and the company expects to be there for at least 13, possibly 20.
The plans look set to create hundreds of jobs for Kershaw, which according to its mayor, has been ‘begging’ for new employment.
‘It sits on one of the most significant trends of gold in the United States,’ Garrett said. ‘A lot of people had forgotten just how significant the gold production was in this area.’
Romarco’s success at finding the gold left at Haile has sparked renewed industry interest in the southeastern United States.
The gold is embedded in microscopic flecks in volcanic rock along what geologists call the Carolina Slate Belt, which winds from northern Georgia through the Carolinas and into Virginia.
Vancouver’s Revolution Resources Corp said in early October that it had begun drilling at several historic North Carolina gold mine sites along the Slate Belt.
Strongbow Exploration Inc, also from Vancouver, said this summer that it had bought mine properties in South Carolina and had begun drilling at North Carolina historic Parker Gold Mine.
Erin Ventures Inc, another Canadian company, also is prospecting for gold in North Carolina, according to its website.
Michael George, gold commodities specialist at the U.S. Geological Survey, said the ‘unprecedented climb into the stratosphere’ for gold prices has spurred the eastern development
‘We may have three or four mines started up in the next 10 to 15 years in the southeastern United States,’ he said on Friday.
Gold prices this week posted their biggest gain in six weeks, buoyed by optimism about European plans to contain the region’s debt crisis.
U.S. gold futures for December delivery were up $14.50 at $1,683 an ounce.
Gold was first discovered in the United States in 1799 when a 12-year-old boy found a large nugget in a North Carolina creek.
The story goes that his family used the nugget as a doorstop until a jeweler bought it for $3.50, said Kenneth Taylor, North Carolina’s chief geologist.
‘There are hundreds of old gold mines all over North Carolina,’ Taylor said. ‘When the gold rush in California came in (in the 1840s), the experienced miners were here in North Carolina, so they went west.’
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