A Reno company expects to complete a first round of studies this summer to determine if it will move forward on a plan to reopen a silver mine near Lovelock.
Liberty Silver Corp. hired Mine Development Associates Inc. of Reno to update estimates of the silver, lead and zinc resources that might be available for mining at its Trinity project 23 miles northwest of Lovelock.
At the same time, the Reno office of JBR Environmental Consultants has begun work on environmental studies and permits that would be necessary to restart the mine.
The Trinity Silver Mine produced about 5 million ounces of silver from 1987 to 1989 when it was operated by U.S. Borax.
It suspended mining when silver prices fell and mining operations moved into sulfide ores that are more difficult to process.
"Current silver prices have created the perfect environment for us to re-open and expand the project," said Bill Tafuri, president and chief operating officer of Liberty Silver.
Silver was trading last week at $18.80 an ounce more than triple its 1989 price.
Liberty Silver believes it could bring the mine back into production within 24 to 36 months. Because the mine is on private property, approval of federal land management officials wouldn't be required.
Also, Tafuri said, U.S. Borax and Santa Fe Pacific Gold left excellent records and completed good reclamation of earlier mining activities, reducing any legacy of environmental issues.
Publicly held Liberty Silver expects to invest $4.2 million in an exploration and development program at the Trinity property.
Liberty Silver struck a deal in March to earn a 70 percent interest in the Trinity project. To earn the stake from AuEx Ventures of Reno, Liberty Silver need to invest $5 million in the prospect over the next six years and prepare a feasibility study acceptable to lenders within seven years.