The long-awaited return of mining to San Juan County is a step closer to reality with the announcement last week that a company plans to launch prospecting work this summer at the Buffalo Boy Mine nine miles southwest of Silverton.
“We’re here to announce what we hope is the commencement of activity at the Buffalo Boy Mine,” John Wright of Silverton, consulting engineer on the project, told the San Juan County commissioners last week.
Mining in San Juan County ended with the 1992 closing of the Sunnyside Mine.
Rising metal prices in recent years have raised hopes that some mining jobs may soon return.
Wright said that the Colorado Division of Reclamation and Mining Safety has issued a permit for the prospecting operation.
“It’s small,” Wright acknowledged. The first step will be a visual inspection of the Oyama Tunnel, on a mining claim near the Buffalo Boy, above Cunningham Gulch near Stony Pass.
That project will involve tunnel ventilation, as well as hand sampling of water and rock.
Later this summer, site preparation will begin, followed by actual prospecting activity that is projected to last until the fall of 2015.
That will involve seasonal mobilization of surface and underground drifting and raising equipment, removal and sampling of excavated material at the existing waste rock dump, and demobilization as winter nears.
“Depending on results from exploration activities, the project may progress to a commercial mining operation or it may cease after reclamation,” according to a Running Sun Advisory Services letter to the DRMS.
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