Glen Van Treek, president of Paramount Gold Nevada Corp. said plans for a gold and silver mine project are moving ahead after his firm submitted a consolidated permit application to the state recently. (The Enterprise/File).

VALE – A Nevada company that plans to build a gold and silver mine south of Vale has reached a major milestone on a project that could be an economic boon for Malheur County.

Calico Resources USA Corp. earlier this month submitted its main permit application to the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries. 

The company plans to hold an open house to answer questions and deliver information about the mine and new developments at its Vale headquarters Tuesday, Dec. 10, at 220 E. Morton St., from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Now the application will move through a meticulous state review by the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries, or DOGAMI, and other state and federal agencies. 

By law the state has 225 days to review the application, finish environmental and socioeconomic reviews and issue draft permits. Once draft permits are issued, the state opens a comment period for another 140 days to seek input from the public. After the comment period closes, the state will issue final permits for the mine and construction will begin.

Glen Van Treek, Paramount president and chief executive officer, said after final permits are issued construction on the mine could begin by 2021.

Calico Resources’ parent company, Paramount Gold Nevada Corp., plans to build the gold and silver mine complex at Grassy Mountain southwest of Vale. 

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Plans for the mine call for shafts about 13 feet tall up to 15 feet wide that zigzag down 35 levels more than 700 feet under the desert. 

For the past seven years, Paramount has strived to get the mine operating, working with the state on a lengthy and detailed permitting process. 

The mine is projected to produce 53,000 ounces of gold and 82,000 ounces of silver over a 10-year period. A rough estimate, based on today’s gold prices, means the mine will generate about $60 million annually.

Treek said he is confident the mine is on track.

“I think we are optimistic. We expect by next year to have the permitting in hand,” said Van Treek.

Several state agencies other than the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries are involved in the permit process, including the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality and the Oregon Water Resources Department.

Locally, Malheur County approved a conditional use permit for the mine in July.

Paramount plans to use a “carbon in leach” process to separate silver and gold from ore at Grassy Mountain. In this process, cyanide solution dissolves the gold and silver from the rock. The company said previously the leaching process would be done inside tanks in an enclosed processing plant.

“We are confident that our application reflects a proposed mining operation that is environmentally responsible,” said Van Treek.

Van Treek said he believes the mine will be an economic boost for the county.

“It will be good for the community,” said Van Treek.

That’s because, he said, Paramount plans to hire about 100 people to work the mine.

“Then, you know, you have everything around the mine so I am sure there will be a lot more we will need. We will have to have some contractors do different things,” said Van Treek.

Van Treek said previously the economic impact locally from the mine could be as high as $30 million a year. He said the average wage will be between $50,000 and $60,000 a year, though some technical jobs will carry higher salaries. 

“Gold prices are good, better than before, so you know we are taking all the steps to make sure it is viable,” said Van Treek. The price of gold per ounce Friday was $1,465. While Van Treek said no one can predict how the gold and silver markets will fluctuate, he is confident gold would continue to draw high prices.  

“Our investors are expecting those prices and, in some cases, to be even higher,” said Van Treek. 

Reporter Pat Caldwell: pat@malheurenterprise.com or 541-473-3377. 

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