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Shafter silver mine plans digging deeper

January 21st, 2011 under Top Stories

By TOM HAINES

SHAFTER – With plans for a re-opening of the Shafter mine appearing to be farther along than at any time in the last 40 years, the City of Presidio last week took a precautionary step.

At Thursday’s City Council meeting, Cary Skelton, director of the Presidio Emergency Service District, suggested passing an ordinance that requires the Rio Grande Mining Company to provide its own rescue and emergency personnel.

“I wanted to make sure that the mine took care of its high risk solely on its own bank account,” Skelton said afterward. “Since we have paramedics here, we want to make sure they have paramedics, so we have an even playing field in south Presidio County.”

Skelton said that Sandy McVey, project manager for Rio Grande Mining Company, has been cooperative. McVey had not returned calls for comment as of press time.

Last month, McVey told a meeting of Shafter residents that the mine should be operational by 2012. It has been hiring local staff, and last week Aurcana Corp., Rio Grande Mining’s parent, named Dr. Peter Megaw to its technical advisory committee.

Aurcana touted Megaw’s three decades of geological exploration experience, particularly in epithermal vein and carbonate replacement deposits, such as those at Shafter. The technical committee is expected to oversee exploration of the Shafter Mine in the coming months.

Such developments have brought reaction in world silver markets. Peter Zihlman, a Zurich-based analyst, recently recommended Aucana stock, which is trading at roughly 30 cents per share.

Shafter-area residents will need to follow developments closer to home. Rio Grande Mining is pursuing a water quality permit amendment from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. Part of that permit would allow the discharge of treated wastewater “at a volume not to exceed a daily average flow of 360,000 gallons per day.” That discharge would flow from the Gold Fields Mine Shaft via pipe into a tributary of Arroyo del Muerto, then to Wilson Arroyo, then to the Rio Grande Basin.

The permit application is on file and available for viewing at the Presidio County Courthouse.

Public comments and requests about the amendment permit can be made to the Office of the Chief Clerk, MC 105, TCEQ, PO Box 13087, Austin, TX 78711-3087, or online at www.tceq.state.tx.us/about/comments.html, or by phone at 800-687-4040.

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