SALMON — Officials with a Canadian company exploring for gold near the former Beartrack Mine, roughly 13 miles west of Salmon, say preliminary indicators are promising but it could be years before any actual mining occurs — if ever.
Hugh Agro, president of Revival Gold, said there are many preparatory and regulatory hurdles to be cleared before open pit mining for gold could again be under way at the Beartrack site or an adjoining 5,900-acre claim block. That second parcel sits mostly on lands managed by the Salmon-Challis National Forest. The firm calls it the Arnett Gold Project.
Revival Gold launched in 2017 when an agreement was struck that could see the firm fully acquire the gold mine operation from owner Meridian.
Speaking July 26 at the company’s second community open house in Salmon, Agro told several dozen residents, including a few elected officials, that drilling and other operations at Beartrack thus far suggest “a good potential to find more gold.” He said the infrastructure still in place at the site makes it additionally attractive since many such operations when they close –- as Meridian did in 2001 amid a low in gold prices –- do not leave buildings and other equipment intact.
“We feel the infrastructure at Beartrack could be redeployed,” he said.
Agro emphasized that the operation is in a nascent stage and suggested the company is cautious about making definitive statements before more data has been gathered from drilling and testing.
“We’re still a long way from mining,” said Agro.
The operation would be open pit, heap leach mining, which relies on a chemical solution containing sodium cyanide to be flushed through rock in a process that ultimately produces gold. That is the same method used in the 1990s that saw 600,000 ounces of gold recovered from Beartrack, according to Revival Gold.
The company says it has two dozen workers based locally, including general manager Pete Blakeley.
“I’ve seen some tough times, but we hope to see it successful again and it’s going to take everyone in this community to get it to be successful again,” he said.
Agro suggested Idaho was a good fit for mining outfits, noting it was a founding industry for the state’s economy and today provides $1.3 billion of gross state product and 14,000 jobs. He said the skill set of locals and a community that would understand and welcome the industry were pluses.
The Salmon area recently saw its latest hopes for a cobalt mine dashed when eCobalt Solutions officials shuttered the Idaho Cobalt Project up Morgan Creek earlier this year.
Asked after the meeting if he thought the proposal by Revival Gold would be of benefit to the community, Salmon City Councilman Fred Waidely said, “It could be; it all depends on what they do.”