After years of running afoul with Colorado regulators, Wildcat Mining Corp.’s permit for a gold and silver mine in La Plata County was reinstated Thursday.
The Colorado Mined Land Reclamation Board voted unanimously to reinstate the permit, which was suspended in 2013 when Wildcat Mining failed to perform corrective actions at the site, west of Durango in La Plata Canyon.
Jeff Fugate, an attorney for the Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety, said a reinstatement of the permit does not mean Wildcat Mining can “go out and start mining tomorrow.”
Fugate said Wildcat Mining holds a “shell of a permit” that was issued in 2011 to allow the company to go onto the site and perform outstanding corrective actions.
From 2008 to 2009, then-president James Clements began illegal mining operations at the historic gold mine, known as the Mayday-Idaho mining complex.
Among the litany of violations, Clements cut a road through the banks of the La Plata River, blasted two mine portals that eventually collapsed, and built a mill inside the workings.
The company in 2013 brought in new leadership, which for the past few years has slowly cleaned up and corrected those actions, the pace of which was unsatisfactory to the mining division.
In January, the division and mining board granted Wildcat Mining one “last chance” to end an almost decade-long run of violations by the end of summer 2016 lest the company face revocation of its permit.
George Robinson, president of Wildcat Mining, said the company accomplished the last of the state’s demands, spending more than $1.145 million over the last few years.
“Everybody’s very pleased with the results of our program,” Robinson said.
Among the completed work, Wildcat Mining stabilized a new access road, fixed two mine portals and repaired two disturbed drainages on Little Deadwood Gulch.
“It’s been a long time coming,” Chris Neumann, attorney for Wildcat Mining, told the board. “We certainly appreciate your patience.”
The mining board reinstated the permit with the condition that no mining activities can commence until Wildcat Mining submits a mining and reclamation plan, an environmental plan, groundwater characterizations, as well as post a reclamation and financial warranty.
Wildcat Mining has 180 days to complete the actions, which are subject to a 90-day review. Part of that process will include a public comment period. Robinson assured the board the company is on track to meet those deadlines.
Wildcat also must obtain a separate land-use permit from La Plata County. Calls to the county were not returned Thursday.