Romarco breaks ground for lab

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By Jenny Arnold

KERSHAW – Diane Garrett of Romarco Minerals said she plans for her company to be in Kershaw for decades to come.

Romarco Minerals is drilling at Haile Gold Mine in Kershaw, and will soon begin construction of a laboratory. The 7,500-square-foot lab will house 12 employees, including a team of analytical technicians, said Jim Wickens, process manager for Haile Gold Mine.

Garrett, president and chief executive officer for the company, said she and other company officials were excited about the groundbreaking of Romarco’s laboratory at the Kershaw Industrial Park. The ceremony was held Friday.

“We feel we’ve become a part of this community,” Garrett said. “We’re really excited about this step forward and we’ll continue to make contributions to this community.”

County Councilman Jack Estridge, who represents the Kershaw area, said Friday was a great day for the southern portion of the county. He reminded those in attendance that $400,000 of taxpayer money was spent making improvements at the 117-acre industrial park, paving the way for its first industry.

“We thank the taxpayers for being patient,” Estridge said. “We’ve been blessed, and I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished.”

Kershaw Town Administrator Tony Starnes thanked the county, Comporium, Duke Energy and Lynches River Electric Cooperative for their contributions in turning a stand of pine trees into land suitable for new industry. He said he hoped Romarco’s lab, visible from U.S. 601, which fronts the industrial park, will attract other industry to the area.

“The bad thing is, they haven’t started mining yet,” Starnes said. “The good thing is, they keep drilling and finding gold.”

Wickens said technicians at the lab will analyze samples from the mine and tell miners where to conduct their work at the mine on nearby Haile Gold Mine Road.

Construction is slated to begin on the lab in November, and officials hope to have the facility operating by June, Wickens said.

Romarco Minerals owns about 4,000 acres of land.

Garrett said earlier this year that she expects that the mine could eventually employ about 300 workers. She said the eventual construction of mining facilities on the property could provide jobs for upward of 500 temporary construction employees.

The company has spent $60 million on the mine and continues to spend about $180,000 on the mine each month, Garrett said in June.

Romarco Minerals began searching the area in December 2007, confirming historic gold locations and looking for additional drill sites.

Contact senior reporter Jenny Arnold at jarnold@thelancasternews.com or at (803) 283-1151