|Viscount Mining, based in Canada, and apparently now also doing business as Viscount Resources, has filed a notice of intent (NOI) to begin mineral exploration with Custer County’s Board of County Commissioners, Planning and Zoning Commission, and the town of Silver Cliff.
Viscount attached to the NOI a copy of their Colorado Division of Reclamation Mining and Safety (DRMS) “Form 2,” a public file known as “Notice of Intent to Conduct Prospecting Operations for Hard Rock/Metal Mines.”
According to the September 13 letter and attached state form, Viscount intends to sink no more than 10 exploratory holes on 40 acres of land owned by the town of Silver Cliff, about a half mile north of the town.
The severed mineral rights on the property are also partially held by the town, with a 20 percent interest. The remaining percentage is distributed amongst Richard Colgate, 49 percent; Iva Lou Bailey, dba Silver Cliff Development LLC, 26.64 percent; and Barbara Peterson, 4.36 percent.
Matt Hughes, a Viscount director and geologist, writes in the submitted NOI, “Our project will be very low impact. No road construction is anticipated. All sites will be reclaimed in a timely manner.” According to Silver Cliff Mayor Steve Lasswell, the drilling will be done by a Colorado company, but not a local one. The equipment being brought to the sites include, as stated in the NOI, a standard CS-1000 core drill, a water truck, a backhoe, and three pickup trucks. The out of town crews will be staying, he believes, in local facilities, and using restaurants and retail shops to maintain themselves while here. The window of time for the operation is noted as September 28 to November 30, but can probably be accomplished in a week.
The purpose of the exploration of course is to determine the extent of minerals still in the ground. As Hughes states in his letter, “The intent of our project is to verify the existence of silver mineralization that was encountered by other companies over the last 50 or so years.” One of those studies, a 1980s Tenneco report, is featured on the Viscount website www.viscountmining.com under their Silver Cliff link.
The approximate hole depth is 125 to 150 feet. Each of the drill sites selected will be 25 feet wide by 50 feet long, and will have on the outside edge of the pad a cuttings, or mud, pit 12 feet by 12 feet to a depth of 5 feet. The pits will catch drill cuttings, and be used to recirculate drill water. There is no surface water on the property, and it is estimated, from current dry pits in the area, that ground water is at least 50 feet deep.
Reclamation plans for the sites include plugging the drill holes from the bottom to 20 feet below the surface with bentonite, and capping off the remaining 20 feet with cement. The cutting pits are to be refilled with excavated material, once any standing water is evaporated, and the drill sites re-contoured as closely as possible to the original topography. A seed mixture, including blue gamma, wheatgrass, bromegrass, and bluegrass, will then be broadcast at the restored sites. The “timely manner” permitted under Colorado regulations for reclamation is five years in duration.
Eventually, the report on the Viscount activities here should be available for review on the DRMS website, http://mining.state.co.us. Tony Waldron, director of the minerals unit of DRMS’s mined land reclamation program tells the Tribune that Viscount’s NOI was received Monday, September 19, and has been assigned a number: P-2016-019. However, the NOI cannot be processed until appropriate fees are received; Viscount had included a wrong application amount, and has been informed of the need to correct that before FRMS processing can get underway.
Hughes, who could not be reached by telephone by press time, has also written, “We hope that our work here at Silver Cliff is welcome and mutually beneficial.” Mayor Lasswell echoed the same sense of the matter in noting the ongoing conversations between the town and the company.
Dedicated Tribune readers who turn to the weekly “Peaks of the Past” feature will have noticed that news from 100 years ago has recently included any number of references to the then exciting ore findings, claims, and expectations. Valley residents have long known the cycle of mining booms and busts, so in many ways, as the pop song renders it, the beat goes on. As of Tuesday, September 20, the spot price on silver was $19.30, a gain of almost 255 percent since 2000, and of 21.57 percent in the last six months.
– W.A. Ewing