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Gold exploration gains attention in Beatty

Updated January 4, 2019 - 7:00 am

After mining activity went dormant in Beatty years ago, the Nye County town is set to become a hub of gold exploration again, experts say.

About six mining companies are either currently exploring the area for gold or have recently acquired the land in a 50-kilometer radius of Beatty, said John Muntean, a geologist with the Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology.

“It’s one of the more exciting areas currently in the state as far as gold exploration. The activity will continue to pick up over the next few years.” Muntean said.

Gold was discovered in the Bullfrog Mining District in the early 1900s and boomed for the next 20 years. But after the boom quieted down, only minor activity took place throughout the middle of the 20th century.

In the 1980s and early 1990s mining activity surged in Beatty again as big companies returned to explore more of the area, but by the end of the 1990s, the activity died down again as a result of falling prices of precious metals.

In the last couple of years, companies conducting exploration in the area started to find extensions of mineralization near old mines, Muntean said.

“They are finding a lot of new mineralization out there that appears to be potentially bigger than (what) was mined in the past. And so, most of the companies until a few years ago were small companies, which we call ‘junior companies’,” he said.

But that has changed. Two large companies and four small companies are currently exploring gold in the Beatty area, Muntean said.

Among them are Johannesburg, South Africa-based AngloGold Ashanti, the third top gold mining company in the world. The company hasn’t been in the state since the early 2000s and recently came back to pick up a property in the Beatty area.

Coeur Mining, a mid-size mining firm that operates the Rochester Mine near Lovelock, acquired Northern Empire’s Sterling Gold Project in August 2018 for $90 million in a deal that included the acquisition of Northern Empire’s significant properties in the Beatty region, according to an article published in the Investing News Network.

Muntean said that Sterling Mine, located southeast of Beatty, was mined between 2007 and 2011, and that Coeur Mining plans to put that mine into production as an open pit, as it already has a permit.

Among the junior companies currently in the Beatty area are Reno-based Renaissance Gold, that leased the property to AngloGold; Vancouver, Canada-based Corvus Gold; Grand Junction, Colorado-based Bullfrog Gold; and Waterton Global Resource Management, a Toronto, Canada-based private equity firm that specializes in mining and metals.

The radius of the exploration activity is spread over 50 square kilometers, from Beatty to its southeast corner for about 20 kilometers and northeast corner for about 20 kilometers. The radius also goes about 10 kilometers west of Beatty, slightly past Rhyolite, and 20 kilometers north of Beatty.

Muntean said multiple deposits in the area attract more companies. Still, he said it’s uncertain whether companies that are exploring the area will actually mine those deposits.

Muntean said when small companies don’t want to mine, they try to add as much value by drilling as much gold as they can and sell out their acquired property to a larger company.

“So far, it looks like the exploration is promising, and it’s drawing the interest of larger companies,” Muntean said. “That’s kind of a barometer when the bigger companies start to show interest. Then you know it’s not just small companies messing around, speculating and all that kind of stuff. It’s for real.”

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