Saturday, November 3, 2012

Gold mining resumes in the Sierra foothills

A few months ago, I wrote this post about the Sutter Gold Mine in Sutter Creek, California, population     2,501.

Now, today's Sacramento Bee offers this story and this photo feature on the undertaking, with a focus on the Lincoln mine in Sutter Creek, one of several being explored by Sutter Gold.  Here's an excerpt:
In the grassy slopes above these Amador County towns east of Sacramento, modern-day miners are blasting and mucking in pursuit of more than $1 billion in glistening deposits. 
That is the anticipated reward the Sutter Gold Mining Co. is banking on, based on current gold prices and projections that it can unearth up to 680,000 ounces of gold. It plans to reap its haul by boring new tunnels from an old mine and exploiting multiple layers of quartz veins, snaking south to the edge of Sutter Creek and, later, north toward Amador City.
In 1998, when the county approved the Sutter project, local residents were divided over mining's return. They argued over a since-abandoned plan to bury tailings on the opposite side of Highway 49 and trucks rumbling through quaint Gold Country towns.

Since then, the county has built a bypass route to Highway 49. And Sutter Gold says most traffic will be confined to the mining property, where tailings will be kept on site – most put back into the ground – "cleaner than when they came out," said general manager Ed McGoldrick.
Pat Carney, Sutter Gold's maintenance superintendent and an Ione resident who recently worked in clay and aggregate mining, hails the region's return to its gilded heritage. Sutter Gold is bringing in miners, mechanics, technicians, geologists and engineers to work the 3.5 miles of the historic Mother Lode Gold Belt under its control. 
But these days, the picturesque towns of Sutter Creek, home to 2,500 residents, and Amador City, population 150, celebrate the Gold Country heritage with wine and cheese and daffodil tours. 
So while Sutter Gold's new employees frequent Sutter Creek restaurants, enjoying leafy cranberry and walnut salads, the place hardly resembles a roaring mining camp.
Journalist Peter Hecht closes with a comment from the director of the Sutter Creek Visitors Bureau, a quote that sums up the tension between the area's two economic engines:
We tell people mining's back in town and they say, 'That's cool. What do we get to see?' It needs to be a tourist attraction.
Read more here:

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