by Rick Langenberg:
The summer and fall of 2014 will serve as a preamble for one of CC&V’s (Cripple Creek & Victor Gold Mining Company’s) biggest new mining ventures in the district.
But at least for this year, Cripple Creek residents won’t see any actual mining activity in their backyard, other than the removal of pine trees near an aspen grove area overlooking the town. Starting next year, however, mining activity will commence as part of Amendment 10 and the mine life extension two, allowing the Cresson project to continue until at least 2025. That’s according to CC&V Community Affairs Manager Jane Mannon, who classifies this summer and fall as more as a preparation year for the next venture in the north section of the Cresson project. “People won’t see much this summer around Cripple Creek ,” said Mannon. She says residents and motorists will continue to see much activity in completing the work for the new valley leach facility, which led to the relocation of part of Hwy. 67. Also, they will notice much mining activity in an area, just east of the Mollie Kathleeen Mine, known as the Wildhorse Extension.
The bulk of the controversial tree removal work along a hillside overlooking Cripple Creek, near the area where Bob Womack discovered gold in the late 1800s, will be part of a 150-plus-acre area to be mined just outside Cripple Creek. This proposed mining area, located almost directly across from the Heritage Center , will kick off in 2015, according to Manning. These plans previously sparked much opposition by Cripple Creek elected leaders, but eventually a compromise agreement was reached, with CC&V agreeing to abide by stringent reclamation and mitigation efforts in dealing with a high wall area, along with helping the town with certain community projects and opening a local office in Cripple Creek . Also, CC&V has done strong public education efforts through its regular “Mine Shots” series, outlining the mining history of the district and other subjects of interest. And CC&V is moving ahead with plans to establish a signature viewing platform at the Heritage Center and plans to try to set up more living mining displays, outlining the overall modern-day mining process. “We should have the viewing platform in place by Memorial Day,” said Mannon. Although opinions are mixed on the merits of the $200 million mining project near Cripple Creek, many history buffs see the potential benefits of heritage tourism by showcasing real-life mining activity.
During the recent Voices for the Future forum, dealing with opportunities for the southern Teller region, comments were highly mixed regarding the benefits of witnessing actual mining operations. Some participants lauded the change in scenery with the drive between Cripple Creek and Victor, saying this trek is much more interesting and unique now with the close viewing sights into one of the largest mining operations in the Western United States, while others expressed concerns over the destruction to the landscape.
Mannon said she sees a lot of potential opportunities in working closely with the Cripple Creek Heritage Center in showcasing the new project. She said CC&V plans to do a lot more local updates once the mining project gets started near Cripple Creek. “We really haven’t heard that much from people in Cripple Creek,” said Mannon, who believes many residents and civic leaders have taken an “out of sight, out of mind” stance regarding the North Cresson venture. That could change next year. In any case, 2014 will be a busy year for CC&V. Besides doing preparatory work for its next major mining venture, the company plans to complete its High Grade Mill in Squaw Gulch by September. This facility will accommodate the processing of high grade ore from the Wildhorse Extension
CC&V is poised for another banner year and expects to stay on the same track as last year, when CC&V produced about 231,000 ounces of gold in 2013 and 103,000 ounces of silver. It currently has more than 500 employees, making it one of the biggest employers in the region.