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Additional mine jobs ‘huge’ in Humboldt

John Seelmeyer

In a community that has a total of 6,500 jobs, the development of 200 new positions is a big deal.

The addition of 200 jobs at the Turqoise Ridge will be all the sweeter for Humboldt County that’s Winnemucca and the surrounding countryside because the county is beginning to regain the economic footing it lost during 2001.

“It’s huge,” was the way Lee Bosch, chairman of the Humboldt Development Agency, described the new jobs.

“Mining took a hit last year.

Now the trend is coming back.”

Mining accounts for roughly 20 percent of the jobs in Humboldt County.

The industry’s employment reached the bottom of the current downturn in March 2002, when the state estimates 1,080 people in the county held mining jobs.

Six months later, however, the number had soared to 1,420.

The Turquoise Ridge property part of a larger piece known as the Getchell Mine is expected to reach full production in late 2004, said officials of Placer Dome Inc.

The Vancouver-based company has owned the property since 1999.

Jay Taylor, president and chief executive officer of Placer Dome, said the company believes the Turquoise Ridge mine will have a nine-year life.

The property is expected to produce 300,000 ounces of gold a year when it’s running at full steam.

Placer Dome will invest $80 million to get the mine up to speed.

That includes $41 million for underground development, $26 million to refurbish an existing mill and $14 million for surface work and initial operating costs.

It’s possible, however, that Placer will save the $26 million allocated for the work on the mill by making alternative arrangements to process the mine’s ore.

Taylor said the company is “very excited” about the prospects at the Humboldt County mine.

“We’ve changed the mining method and have opened up previously undeveloped high-grade areas,” he said.

“We know we can mine this property safely and profitably.”

The gold deposits at Getchell were discovered by prospectors Edward Knight and Emmett Chase in 1933.

The property has produced gold and occasionally tungsten on and off ever since.

Shortly after buying the property in 1999, Placer suspended production.Two years later, it wrote off the value of the Getchell mine.