Exploration drilling is underway in northern Elko County near the historic town of Jarbidge, and Newcrest Resources Inc. has opened a temporary man-camp in the community to house exploration crews.

The drilling and camp followed U.S. Forest Service approval for a second stage of drilling.

“There are multiple drill sites planned in the area within about two miles of town, all of which have received permit approvals,” said James Perry, business development manager for Australia-based Newcrest Mining Ltd.

Newcrest Resources is a wholly owned subsidiary of Australia-based Newcrest.

The camp was opened in July for up to 30 employees working on the exploration project. Drilling activities also began in July.

“Recently, we hosted tours to show local residents the camp and drill rig,” Perry said.

“Newcrest is committed to maintaining positive relationships within our communities of operation and being a good neighbor. To that end, we continue to host regular community meetings in both Jarbidge and Murphy Hot Springs to provide project updates to residents and answer any questions,” he said.

“Jarbidge residents have been gracious and accommodating during both exploration seasons. We continue to work closely with Jarbidge residents and look for ways to support the town,” Perry said on Aug. 14.

Jackie Gilliam of Jarbidge said she has no complaints about Newcrest personnel and their project.

“They bend over backwards to accommodate any concerns people bring up,” she said in a phone interview. “They say they are committed to being good neighbors.”

For example, residents complained about the noise level from the operating rig, so Newcrest built barriers around the drill site to minimize noise, Gilliam said.

“They are very proactive and keep people informed,” said Gilliam. She did point out, however, that there are people in town who like things the way they were and don’t like change.

The company donated $20,000 to the water plant last year, and the company will be donating a large, free-standing public bulletin board to the community hall, according to Gilliam, who is secretary of the Jarbidge Community Association but was speaking as a local resident, not for the association.

The Jarbidge drilling project is in the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest.

Perry said drilling is expected to continue to this November.

Jenna Padilla, a geologist with the Forest Service, said in an email Aug. 14 that the drill site across from Bear Creek was permitted under the recent 2019 plan of operations.

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Perry said the project is in early stages of exploration, and “it is important to understand that there is a lot of work to be done yet before we are able to determine whether there is a commercially viable resource for development. We are currently focused on assessing underground targets in the Jarbidge area.”

Perry said Newcrest can’t say whether the gold exploration looks promising yet because of confidentiality requirements, but he said that “the history of great gold discoveries and mining in Nevada is one of the drivers that attracts Newcrest to this region.

“Discovery of new ore bodies is an important element in Newcrest’s business strategy, with Jarbidge being one of a number of exciting opportunities that Newcrest is currently pursuing it its global portfolio,” he said.

Jarbidge is an old mining town, where gold discoveries in the early 1900s created a boom town.

Newcrest’s second phase of exploration required an environmental analysis, and the Forest Service took comments in the spring. Elko County submitted remarks after a May 15 commissioners’ meeting.

Jarbidge’s water system is dependent on surface water, and some of Newcrest’s sites are near the town’s resources, Elko County Natural Resources Director Curtis Moore wrote, urging the USFS to look at risk and mitigation measures.

Perry said that at this point there “is no hydrological evidence that indicates that Newcrest has had any impact on any water source. We understand that water is a precious commodity in this community. That is why Newcrest sources water from multiple sites, which serves to put less stress and reliance on any one site for water.

“We’ve also implemented voluntary quarter water sampling to continue building our understanding of existing conditions,” he said.

According to the Forest Service, Newcrest needs roughly 12,000 gallons of water per day per drill rig when drilling.

Newcrest has waivers from the Nevada Division of Water Resources to use groundwater from the Laurel Shaft and the Plain Adit, both on private land, the Forest Service reported.

The plan is for construction of 15 drill sites, according to the Forest Service. The proposal was for 15 to 20 drill holes total and one sump per 1,000 feet drill length for up to 31 sumps.

The company is permitted to disturb 2.85 acres, Perry said.

The Forest Service stated in its request for comment in the spring that the plan called for five staging areas on or adjacent to existing roads to park equipment and for temporary water tanks for water pumping across the project.

Newcrest Mining is headquartered in Melbourne, Australia, and has a regional office in Denver. The company has a portfolio of operating mines and exploration projects across Asia Pacific and the Americas.

In Wyoming, Newcrest has partnered with GFG Resources Inc. to advance GFG’s Rattlesnake Hills Gold Project, with GFG as the operator, according to Perry.

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