MISSOULA – An Atlanta mining company is planning to begin exploratory drilling next month in western Montana in an area it estimates could produce more than $3 billion in gold.
Dutch Gold Resources Inc. has its eyes on the Rock Creek drainage west of Philipsburg in Granite County, where tests show it contains a large open-ended gold and silver system.
Despite the company’s announcement earlier this week, state officials on Friday told The Missoulian that no drilling will be allowed until the company posts a reclamation bond of about $10,000.
Warren McCullough, of the Montana Department of Environmental Quality, said the agency contacted the company after it issued a news release about its drilling plans.
“They assured us that it either had been or would be wired to us immediately,” McCullough said Friday about the bond. “When that happens, when my bond clerk tells me that we have received it, and when we hear from our fiscal services people that the transfer has been received, then I will sign the license.”
The bond’s status remained unclear Saturday.
The Basin Gulch claim is within two miles of Upper Rock Creek, a prized trout fishing stream and the focus of conservation efforts. Dutch Gold has mapped the area and said the gold field is partly on U.S. Forest Service land.
The company said it wants to do drilling to get a more accurate picture of where it will find gold.
“This progress is right in line with our previously stated goals, representing more tangible evidence of our continuing commitment towards trying to build long-term, sustainable value for our shareholders,” said Daniel Hollis, the company’s chief executive officer, in the news release.
In a previous statement to potential investors, the company said the area contained an estimated 7.6 million ounces of gold, more than a third in high-grade ore.
McCullough told the newspaper he had received “quite a bit of interest by e-mail and phone, from people that I assume are investors.”
He said issuing a mining exploration permit doesn’t require a lot of public process, but a permit to mine would have a “much higher profile.”
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