State approves Wildcat Mining’s plan to repair unstable road

Keywords: Mining,

DENVER – Wildcat Mining can regain its permit for a gold mine in La Plata Canyon, as long as it executes a plan to fix an unstable road that’s been a problem for four years, state regulators decided Wednesday.

The company was on the verge of losing its mining permit late last year, after years passed without action on orders to fix an illegal road the company’s former owner had cut to access a mine near the hamlet of Mayday.

But the company seized the final opportunity that the Mined Land Reclamation Board extended to it and posted a $100,000 bond to show it was serious about fixing the road this year.

Under an agreement Wildcat struck with mining inspectors, the company will need to put up another $350,000 and have the road fixed by July 1. If it doesn’t fix the road, the state will take over, revoke the company’s mining permit and erase the road from the landscape, according Jeff Fugate, an attorney for the Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety.

“That road needs to be repaired this year,” Fugate said.

But if Wildcat fixes the road, the state will waive all but $5,000 of a $44,000 fine it has already imposed on the company.

The Mined Land Reclamation Board approved the agreement Wednesday.

Wildcat remains under a cease-and-desist order, and its permit is “suspended” but not revoked entirely.

However, if the company continues its cleanup, it can “eventually have the permit reinstated from its suspended state and allow the operator to move forward with the mining operation,” Fugate said.

Wildcat’s mine has been an ongoing problem since 2009, when the company’s former owner cut a steep, unstable road down the banks of La Plata Canyon to access his mine on the other side of the river. He also installed an unpermitted mill in the mine and drilled an illegal portal, which collapsed.

Deadlines to fix the road have passed unheeded as Wildcat underwent a series of corporate restructurings. The company is now owned by Varca Ventures of Sarasota, Fla.

jhanel@cortezjournal.com