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Gold mine issued schedule for final permitting

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Kershaw mine construction won't begin this year

By Jesef Williams

There’s now a more defined timeline for when gold mine construction could begin in Kershaw.

Last week, Romarco Minerals Inc. issued a media release to inform the public that the U.S. Corps of Engineers has posted a schedule for completion of its Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). Romarco Minerals is the parent company of Haile Gold Mine Inc.

That EIS is for a federal wetlands permit to give Romarco the go-ahead to begin mine construction. The company has occupied the historic site since 2007. It’s located a few miles east of the town of Kershaw.

A document called the Alternatives Analysis is in its final review stages and will be made available to the public in August. That document is considered the “heart of the EIS,” the release said.

A public meeting will be held in Kershaw on Aug. 20, during which residents can discuss the Alternatives Analysis with the Corps. In March 2014, a draft of the EIS will be published. A public hearing of the draft will be in April, followed by publication of the final EIS in July 2014.

Romarco Minerals President Diane Garrett said the company is pleased with the schedule.

“The Corps’ schedule provides clarity for our planning and will allow all stakeholders to closely follow the remainder of the EIS process step-by-step and monitor the process being made on the permitting front,” she said.

“We are solely focusing on permitting and diligently managing our cash to ensure we are funded through to final permits,” Garrett continued. “We are fortunate to have a high-quality, high-grade, low-cost gold deposit in the U.S. with robust economics.”

The 404 Wetlands permit is the only federal permit required for the Haile Gold Mine project.

Romarco has also filed applications for five state permits through S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control. However, those permits can’t be issued until the draft of the EIS is filed.

Since occupying the site, Romarco has done plenty of exploratory drilling. Analyses of ore samples had been conducted regularly, all in an effort to gauge where the largest concentrations of gold may be found.

But according to the release, all exploratory drilling was suspended during “the second quarter of 2013.” The company said it did that as a cost-saving measure.

Looking forward

During mine construction, as many as 500 people are expected to work at the Haile Gold Mine site.

After construction, between 250 and 270 full-time workers and 80 contractors will remain on site during normal operations.

Once operating, the mills at HGM will reportedly run 24 hours a day and only stop for periodic maintenance. The company expects to operate at the site for at least 10 to 15 years.