Mine seeking map changes and new amendment approval
~ by Rick Langenberg ~
The Newmont Cripple Creek & Victor (CC&V) Mine has kicked off a series of open houses that conclude this week in Victor with one main goal: getting support for an active time for regulatory action and preservation projects.
And at least based on initial reactions, CC&V got the thumbs-up from community residents and civic leaders who are still dazzled by the economic bonanza created by the mining boom with nearly 700 employees, an annual community investment fund of $500,000, the addition of more than $600 million in processing facilities in the last few years and $2 million-plus planned for major historic preservation projects in 2017 alone
“By and large, people understand what this (Cresson mining) project means to the community,” said Brad Poulson, a community affairs specialist for the Newmont CC&V Mine. “Mining is an important part of our heritage.”
No real hurdles have appeared on the regulatory and political landscape that could halt CC&V from reaching the finish line in its latest permit pursuits and in the launching of active mining in the North Cresson area near Cripple Creek. During the initial open houses last week, Poulson cited some concerns regarding such issues as water, storm water drainage, blasting impacts, preservation and view sheds, but nothing out of the ordinary.
Within the next few months, CC&V hopes to finalize plans that have been in the preliminary stages for months, with a forthcoming hearing before the Teller County commissioners on Aug. 10. This could create a slight realignment and expansion of the map for the Cripple Creek mining overlay district. The approval would allow the Chicago tunnel area to become part of the CC&V permit boundary. It also would protect the bulk of the Poverty Gulch historic recreation area from any possible future mining activity.
The latter issue is a biggie for the city of Cripple Creek and nearly led to a showdown in early 2017. But in a compromise move, CC&V agreed to work with the city in protecting Poverty Gulch, considered the birthplace of the 1890s gold rush.
“The mining company has addressed the city’s concerns,” said Cripple Creek City Administrator Ray DuBois, when speaking before the council and the public during a workshop last winter. “It is a win-win (for the city and for the mining company).” “That is a pretty reasonable compromise,” added DuBois, who previously served as general manager of CC&V under the previous South African company owners.
Under this pact, the city agreed not to file any objections to Newmont’s new proposed map changes and amendment bid before state regulators. It also didn’t have any objections towards letting the Chicago tunnel area, located near Silver Street and encompassing a slither of the Poverty Gulch area, to become part of the active mining area.
CC&V officials also have lauded the agreement. “We are very pleased to work with the city of Cripple Creek,” said Lisa Becker, external relations manager for CC&V, in a previous interview. “It was never our intent to do any active mining in Poverty Gulch. We are glad this worked out to everyone’s satisfaction.”
Now, nearly six months later, the final touches will be put on a new mining map and regulatory changes.
If everything proceeds on schedule, the Chicago tunnel, part of an earlier historic permit, will become part of the active mining area. This tunnel will play a pivotal role, if the Newmont CC&V Mine eventually pursues an ambitious underground mining pursuit. “Right now, that is not part of our business model,” cautioned Poulson.
The previous mining company owners had announced a fairly aggressive schedule for the underground mining project but with Newmont North America taking control of the operation, these plans have been put on hold and are currently being financially analyzed. Still, this pursuit could be explored in the future.
The map change and revised mining overlay has already been approved by the Teller County Planning Commission and by Colorado mining regulators.
During last week’s open house, Newmont officials appeared optimistic that the commissioners would follow suit. They have cited the new changes as mostly technical. “It really just gives us more flexibility,” said Poulson.
Besides the mining district changes, CC&V is seeking approval of Amendment 11 that will result in no new disturbance levels, but will permit the company to do minor changes with their storage facilities and in the transportation of ore to other areas outside Colorado.
Those hearings are expected at the end of the month and in September.
Mining activity to get underway near Cripple Creek
Regardless of any permit approval, the big changes visitors and residents will notice this year deal with the new project at the outskirts of Cripple Creek, across from the Heritage Center. For the first time since the Cresson project started in the early 1990s, active mining will occur near the doorsteps of Cripple Creek.
Initially, local officials mounted opposition, but in the last few years they have greeted the effort with more open arms, realizing the fact that Cripple Creek is a historic mining district. Plus, CC&V has invested considerable money into the Cripple Creek’s future recreation pursuits and has opened a mining company visitors center on Bennett Avenue that conducts many educational programs and that attracts thousands of visitors a year.
More exhibits and signage also will occur at the Cripple Creek Heritage Center to accommodate the new mining effort in the North Cresson area, known as the Globe Hill project.
Already, many trees have been removed, and much topsoil will get taken out on a hillside overlooking the Heritage Center.
But Poulson cautions that no matter how much this area is mined, it will conclude with a state-of-the-art reclamation project. “This is a giant construction project that is not complete, until it is completely reclaimed,” he added.
In addition, CC&V has launched an impressive preservation schedule for this year. Within the next few months, the company will relocate the old American Eagles mining facilities and artifacts to a visible area, off Hwy. 67, near Victor.
In fact, during the open houses, the proposed preservation efforts sparked more interest than any other future developments.
Newmont officials cited the fact that at least 25 key historic structures in the mining area has been saved.
The American Eagles site, located outside Victor in an area overlooking the entire Cresson project, was shut down in the spring of 2016, and the company established some alternative viewing areas for the public.
Now, the original American Eagles buildings and historic artifacts will be relocated to the Little Grouse overlook area, just west of Victor. The company hopes to complete the project this year. In fact, according to Newmont officials, more than $2 million has been invested into key preservation
Of all the developments with a new owner of CC&V, the closure of American Eagles, has prompted the most concerns.
The company also has preserved the Independence Mine headframe, located on a key hiking trail.
The final CC&V open house has been scheduled for Aug. 2 at the Victor Community Center, starting at 4 p.m.