By Garrett Estrada, Eureka Sentinel Staff Writer
Midway Gold broke ground Tuesday for its new Pan Mine project 22 miles southeast of Eureka and 50 miles outside of Ely. The new mine will begin construction immediately and will provide jobs for area residents.
Midway Gold’s CEO Ken Brunk said the total work force at the site will have around 130 employees, though according to an information packet handed out at the ground breaking, the site will require 160 jobs during its construction.
“It’s going to increase jobs,” Brunk said. “They are high paying jobs. I am looking to be a long term employer for a few decades.”
Former Midway Gold CEO and consultant to the project Alan Branham said the project is considered a medium size mine, with an estimated gold deposit of 1.1 million ounces, but that could increase.
“It is not uncommon to see these [mines] continue to grow. They currently have 20 to 30 miles of land, but it has great exploration potential,” Branham said.
Midway’s Vice President and General Manager of Nevada Operations Mike Protani said the next step is to begin construction. An access road has already been constructed to the site, and Protani said Midway expects to start seeing gold by the fourth quarter of this year.
“Pan mine is unique in Nevada because the mining and strip ratio is very low, so the ore is basically right on the surface,” Protani said.
Golden shovels were broken out and handed around the Midway board of directors to dig into the earth to symbolically get the construction underway.
Members of the Bureau of Land Management were present to show their support of the project. BLM Field Manager Jill Moore believes the federal agency did a “good and thorough job based on science” in their studies to show the mine project won’t harm the environment.
That should mean good news for the bird indigenous to that area.
“In particular, we are focused on the Sage Grouse right now. We are allowing Midway to disturb some of their habitat because we are ensuring that a larger amount of habitat is created or enhanced in other areas for the Sage Grouse,” Moore said.
Many White Pine County and City officials made it out to the groundbreaking to celebrate. Director for Community and Economic Development Director Jim Garza said it’s always important to have a continuation of projects for contractors in the pipeline.
“I think this Pan project with Midway Gold is just going to continue economic growth for 13 to 15 years in our market,” Garza said.
Brunk said it was through “great cooperation” with the city and county officials that helped bring this project to life. He said he understands his company needs to execute on the promise of the mine, which means getting things done safely and by doing it “the right way and then some.”
“You come in as a guest and you have to earn your way as a resident. We did that with contributions as well as, not just dollars, but man hours and people that care about the communities they live in.”