ELKO — Newcrest Resources Inc. is planning a second phase of exploration drilling near the historic mining town of Jarbidge in northern Elko County, pending completion of the U.S. Forest Service’s environmental analysis of the project.
Elko County Commissioners voted at their May 15 meeting to send comments due by the end of that day on the proposed project, including stating the county’s concerns.
The county’s natural resources director, Curtis Moore, said the comment period was a chance to suggest topics to be addressed in the analysis. He said those involve surface water impacts, wildlife impacts and the impact to the “adjacent human environment.”
The project would have an economic impact on the tiny town, he said. The town was once a mining town, and “we value that as well,” Moore said.
Gold was discovered in the early 1900s in the Jarbidge area, creating a boom town, but the mining was small-scale compared with the large gold mines of present day. In the book “Gold Fever” written by the late Helen Wilson, a longtime Jarbidge resident, she quoted a letter written by Tom Beadle, an assayer from Cripple Creek, Colo.
“I arrived here with my assaying equipment and am doing a rushing business. This district promises to be a real boom and looks rich as any I have ever seen,” he wrote on Dec. 15, 1909.
According to historic accounts, the Elkoro Mining Co. mined at Jarbidge until the Depression.
Commissioner Jon Karr raised the concern that “there’s beautiful country. I quite honestly don’t want an open pit on it.” He said he wanted to know what would be planned on the site.
Commission Chairman Rex Steninger said the project is just exploration at this point.
Moore’s comments to the Forest Service prepared for the May 15 meeting state that Jarbidge’s water system is dependent on surface water, and some of Newcrest’s proposed sites are near the town’s sources.
“Elko County would recommend exploring risk and mitigation measures to protect that municipal water source,” he wrote.
He also recommended the Forest Service explore the impacts of the proposed exploration project on elk and other game in the area and look at the economic impacts to the town of Jarbidge and to Elko County.
Newcrest Resources, a wholly owned subsidiary of Australian-based Newcrest Mining Ltd., completed the first phase of core drilling at Jarbidge in 2018, and now proposes a one-year exploration drilling program, the U.S. Forest Service reported. The plan would be to construct 15 drill sites.
Eight of the sites are already permitted and constructed from a past approved plan of operations, the Forest Service wrote. Newcrest plans to use one or two core and/or reverse circulation drill rigs to test geological targets, and multiple holes may be drilled at each site.
The Forest Service stated that the proposal would be for 15 to 20 drill holes total, and one sump per 1,000 feet drill length will be constructed for up to 31 sumps. The project would require roughly 4,700 feet of an overland travel route and total surface disturbance would be roughly 2.85 acres.
The Forest Service also stated that the plan calls for five staging areas on or adjacent to existing roads to park equipment and for temporary water tanks to stage water pumping across the project. The company will need approximately 12,000 gallons of water per day per drill rig when drilling.
Newcrest has waivers from the Nevada Division of Water Resources for the use of groundwater from the Laurel Shaft and the Plain Adit, both on private land, according to the Forest Service.