VIRGINIA CITY — A company’s plans for long-term mining at the scene of one of the world’s greatest bonanzas have raised concerns from neighbors.
A citizen’s group calling itself the Comstock Residents Association has formed to fight Comstock Mining Inc.’s plans to mine for gold and silver near the historic town of Virginia City over the next 30 years, the Reno Gazette-Journal reported.
Since 2003, the company has acquired property and mining claims encompassing about 6,100 acres stretching roughly from Virginia City to Dayton, including Gold Hill and Silver City.
Corrado De Gasperis, Comstock Mining’s president and CEO, said test drilling has identified deposits of gold and silver worth more than $2 billion, and the mining will provide jobs and a boost to the local economy.
The value of gold this spring reached a record of roughly $1,500 per ounce. Silver prices are at a 30-year high.
"We’re hitting tremendous amounts of gold and silver. We’re hitting bonanza grade," he said. "We’re going to mine."
But opponents say the company’s open-pit mines will destroy a quiet rural lifestyle and forever alter one of the West’s most historic places.
"We’re not opposed to mining. We’re opposed to pit mining in the historic district," said David Toll, an author and organizer of the Comstock Residents Association. "This is a National Historic Landmark. It belongs to everybody."
The landmark commemorates one of the world’s greatest bonanzas ever: a massive, underground pocket of silver and gold around Virginia City known as the Comstock Lode, about 20 miles southeast of Reno. Discovered in 1859, the lode has yielded about 9 million ounces of gold and 220 million ounces of silver, worth about $12 billion in today’s prices.
With most needed state and county permits already secured, Comstock Mining hopes to start digging south of Gold Hill late this summer. The pit mine there is expected to be about 30 acres in size and between 300 and 450 feet deep.