Company Leaders Mourn The Loss of Veteran Employee
While the coronavirus may put a halt to some business activities, the gold boom of the Newmont Cripple Creek & Victor Mine ( CC&V) is displaying no signs of a letdown, generating nearly a million dollars in COVID relief funds for impacted communities in Teller and Fremont counties.
Moreover, the company is proceeding full-speed ahead with its mining pursuits near Cripple Creek and south of Victor, coupled with ambitious underground explorations, aimed at eventually plying more high-grade gold that the old-timers may have left behind. Plus, company leaders say they plan to partner with local communities in efforts to preserve historic mining structures and vital cultural resources.
The ultimate goal is for CC&V to continue the life span of its Teller mining pursuits, scheduled to expire in 2027. “We want to be Teller County’s leading employer for a long time,” said CC&V General Manager Melissa Harmon.
These are some of the themes of recent presentations CC&V conducted during a virtual community forum and in briefing the Cripple Creek City Council. Other than a few technical questions, CC&V got the thumbs-up by those community members participating in their presentations and by elected leaders in Cripple Creek.
COVID Shock Waves
While CC&V’s mining pursuit are moving full-speed ahead, the company has gotten hit hard emotionally by the COVID epidemic. Harmon began both her presentation at both meetings with some somber news.
One of CC&V’s veteran and dedicated employees, Allan Cancil, a heavy equipment operator, recently passed away due to complications from the coronavirus epidemic. Cancil developed the disease in early November, and was hospitalized for an extended period. “Allan was part of the CC&V family for 18 years and our team is heartbroken,” said Harmon.
He died in early December at the age of 40. A funeral service was held in Colorado Springs on Dec. 15.
Cancil grew up in the Pikes Peak area and was an avid motorcycle rider, and was quite popular among the CC&V staff. “CC&V and its employees are reaching out to Allan’s family to offer comfort and support. This sad loss reminds us that we must remain vigilant and continue with COVID-19 precautions at home as well at work,” added the general manager.
Besides the tragic death of a veteran equipment operator, CC&V has incurred more than 30 positive COVID cases, with its employees and contractors. On the upside, Harmon stated that CC&V, reported as part of the laundry list of outbreak locations in Teller County, is on the downhill side of the epidemic, with only five active cases. “Our operation lends itself to social distancing,” said the CC&V general manager.
Both she and other CC&V leaders emphasized that the company strictly adheres to state and local COVID-19 protection guidelines.
Financial Windfall and Mining Updates
On the financial side, the company, through a Newmont-driven COVID fund, has generated $750,000 for the communities of Teller and Fremont counties since the epidemic began. “We felt it was our duty to help those who were struggling,” said Harmon
This gesture was lauded by several community leaders, such as Debbie Miller, the president of the Greater Woodland Park Chamber of Commerce, during the company’s virtual community forum.
With a workforce of nearly 600 employees, CC&V also reportedly pays millions in taxes in Colorado and to local communities. Altogether, the company employs 2,138 workers in Colorado.
The exact financial impacts for Teller haven’t quite been determined, but they are estimated in the millions annually. Every CC&V position leads to three other jobs, according to company estimates. About 40 percent of the CC&V employees live in the Woodland Park, northern Teller areas, while 20 percent reside in southern Teller.
On the mining front, the company plans to continue its Globe Hill and Schist Island mining pursuits, located to the east and north of Cripple Creek, through 2027. These operations can be viewed in closer detail from the Cripple Creek Heritage Center.
But for this year, Harmon indicated that more work would occur a little further away from the city limits.
Cripple Creek elected leaders didn’t express any reservations about the visual impacts, as these are part of previously approved permits.
Striking The Riches That Old-Timers Left Behind
Instead, more interest has hinged on CC&V’s active underground exploration pursuits. These could determine the feasibility of continuing to mine past the 2027 cut-off date. Millions are being invested into these exploratory spurts, consisting of 4,000-foot holes of specific directional drilling. “It is quite a feat,” said Harmon. “It has been very successful.”
The CC&V general manager said currently the exploratory mission is designed to search for key core samples. “It is not fracking,” stressed Harmon.
If the exploratory stage yields the results company officials are expecting, this could open the door for a major underground mine. But this operation will be much different than those that occurred during the initial gold rush.
The company is also evaluating “lay back” operations, giving it the ability to expand more into the existing Cresson pit.
“There is probably a good chance we will be able to extend that mining life span beyond 2027,” said Harmon, when addressing the Cripple Creek council.
As for other major mining developments, CC&V has begun the permitting process for a vast expansion of its valley leach field operation, so it can have the capability of handling 107 million tons of leach material. The expanded facility is slated for construction in April 20203, with a scheduled completion date of Nov. 2023.
This is a key feature of CC&V’s forthcoming Amendment 13, which will need the approval of state authorities and the Teller County commissioners. This permit, though, doesn’t involve any new structures or removal of historic artifacts or trees. Nor, does it call for any new mining efforts. “Everything is being proposed within existing boundaries,” said CC&V representative Katie Blake, who said the proposed amendment should be viewed by state officials shortly.
It will then go before the Teller planning commission and board of commissioners.
Brad Poulson, CC&V spokesman, emphasized that the company won’t experience a major development stage in the next few years, and that its current employee base of about 560 will remain the same.
CC&V is also boasting its track record in the area of historic preservation. During its virtual open house, some community members expressed an interest in the company’s commitment towards enhancing cultural resources, as part of telling the Cripple Creek/Victor mining story.
“I grew up in Colorado’s first gold camp,” said Poulson, in describing his roots in Idaho Springs. But on the downside, he admitted that he really couldn’t remember any historic structures there.
The Cripple Creek/Victor area, however, abounds with much history, and CC&V officials say they want to do what they can to preserve this story. That also includes working local groups, such as the Two Mile High Club and the Southern Teller County Focus organization. In addition, they want to work with the Heritage Center in possibly doing more exhibits, noted Poulson.
But with the coronavirus epidemic, the company is unsure about one of their most popular summer features: the daily mining tours.
The company, though, plans to conduct more virtual community forums in 2021.