Even though an international gold mine company has a permit to drill nine exploration holes about 15 miles from Idleyld Park, it could be years before executives think about pursuing a mining permit.
Mawson Resources, an Australian mining company with its major drilling sites in Finland received drilling permits from the Department of Geology and Mineral Industries in October and drilled two holes in the fall with plans to resume mining in the spring.
Chairman and CEO Michael Hudson said it could be 10 years before the company pursues permitting a mine in the area.
“Irrespective if we continue exploring in the district or not, all exploration sites will be reclaimed and restored back to their original condition,” Hudson said in an email. “Should we decide to continue then more exploration will be undertaken. Exploration is a high risk proposition, with only 1 in 1,000 projects every progressing to mining. If we decide not to continue exploration, the property will be released from all permits which include bonds.”
The Bureau of Land Management owns some of the 150,500 acres of the exploration land which brings them into the process, but Acting District Manager Cheyne Rossbach said the department is limited with the permitting process until the company wants to mine instead of explore.
“These test drilling locations fall under non-discretionary actions,” Rossbach said. “Under the claims that they have, they have that right. They don’t say necessarily what they are looking for, but in that Bohemia area as you move north, historically there has been a lot of gold mines and mining activities.”
Rossbach said if the company applies for an operations permit, it will have to do an environmental impact study, which is designed to prevent mines from leaking heavy metals and contaminating local water sources.
The Formosa Mine in Riddle has been listed on the Environmental Protection Agency’s National Priorities List as a Superfund site. This means the area is a nationally-recognized candidate for a cleanup because it has been contaminated by hazardous waste and poses an environmental risk.
The exploration permit requires the company reclaim and restore the space disturbed. Hudson said the holes are less than 2 inches in diameter.
“During the prospecting or exploration phase there will be zero affect to the local environment as exploration activities are low impact,” Hudson said. “If exploration advances, Mawson will continue to perform baseline geochemical studies to ensure all activities are monitored.”
According to the report released by the company on Feb. 26, some holes produced gold, silver, arsenic, antimony and tellurium.
A mine proposal would require review and approval from State of Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries and the Bureau of Land Management. For the BLM it would take the form of developing an Environmental Impact Statement.