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Environmental Concerns Begin To Follow Gold Mining Resurgence

The resurgence of gold mining in the Carolinas is getting more attention. Last month, WFAE's Greg Collard had this story on the reopening of the Haile gold mine near Kershaw, SC. Some interesting nuggets (yes, pun intended): - Gold was discovered there in 1827 - During the Civil War, General Sherman's troops destroyed the mining equipment. - Mine owner Romarco Minerals expects it to produce an average of 150,000 ounces a year, which would make South Carolina the nation's 7th-largest gold producer. - The mine's gold is dispersed in minute amounts. Romarco projects seven tons of earth will be excavated for every ton of ore that's grinded in milling machines. That will produce just above 2 grams of gold - less than the weight of a penny. On Sunday, Sammy Fretwell of The State newspaper in Columbia, SC, reported on the environmental concerns over the Haile gold mine. He reports that seven miles of creeks will be destroyed. "We have perennial streams that are going to be blown out or pretty much covered over,'' said Morgan Wolf, a biologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. "It is on over 4,000 acres of land, and much of that will be cleared and graded with huge pits dug." There's also concern that the mine could affect one of the last remaining habitats for an endangered shellfish called the Carolina heelsplitter. That habitat is only two miles away, although it's in a different watershed. Increased Gold Activity The (Raleigh) News & Observer also had a story Sunday on gold mining in the Carolinas. Jay Price reports that several companies are conducting exploratory drilling operations. Revolution Resources, for example, has had exploratory drilling operations that begin 10 miles west of Asheboro and "stretch across thousands of acres in Randolph and Davidson counties." His report also notes that mining companies are being secretive about putting together deals for land rights because they don't want to attract competition. Another company, Erin Ventures, has about 2,000 acres in South Carolina and 1,000 in Moore County, NC. It had trouble attracting investors until Romarco Minerals reported big gold deposits at the Haile mine. "I personally know of eight different companies that are very active in South Carolina, and all of them are likely to be looking in North Carolina. I'd expect to see pretty substantial activity there become more public as they announce land packages and more drilling results in the next year or so," said Erin Ventures President Tim Daniels. Romarco Minerals, Revolution Resources and Erin Ventures are based in Canada.