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Haile mine raises expectations

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By Chris Sardelli

KERSHAW – Only months after a Canadian gold development company announced plans to explore new sites at the Haile Gold Mine near Kershaw, the firm says it has discovered double the amount of gold deposits than previously estimated.

Romarco Minerals Inc. began searching the area in December 2007, confirming historic gold locations and looking for additional drill sites. Through extensive drilling over the past few months, Romarco has measured over 1.5 million ounces of gold, with an additional 678,000 inferred resource ounces. Inferred resources are estimates based on limited sampling data.

Initially, the firm had estimated 780,000 ounces of gold in the area, based on historic measured gold amounts and indicated amounts, which are estimations drawn from samples drilled in close proximity to one another.

Diane Garrett, president and chief executive officer of Romarco, expects the amount of measured gold to increase as further sites are drilled over the next year.

As those amount increases, the mine life should also extend past the current projection of 11 years, Garrett said.

"There's a much higher probability that we'll be putting this mine into production," Garrett said. "It will be good for the local economy."

Once the mine is fully operational, Garrett plans to hire at least 130 people locally.

For every job created at the mine site, four more jobs at local businesses should be created, Garrett said. This includes local fabrication or machine shops whose businesses will work with the mine.

Kershaw Town Administrator Tony Starnes is encouraged by the news that Romarco has measured higher levels of gold.

He's taking a wait-and-see approach on the opening of the mine, though he expects it will eventually open for business.

"It would mean a lot to Kershaw because of the higher unemployment rate in the southern part of the county," Starnes said. "It will be a shot in the arm for Kershaw."

There's still plenty to do before the mine is operational, said Keith Tunnell, president of the Lancaster County Economic Development Corp.

The next important step involves obtaining federal permits, followed by a feasibility study and the construction phase.

"I'm cautiously optimistic about the mine reopening,' Tunnell said. "It's good news to hear that there's more gold than we thought originally, but to be clear, nothing has been built yet."

Contact reporter Christopher Sardelli at csardelli @thelancasternews.com or at (803) 416-8416