Romarco makes a major find in South Carolina
By Kevin Michael Grace
In gold rush times, when nuggets as big as footballs were strewn across riverbeds, miners were an opportunistic lot. They came in great numbers, took what they could and then moved on to the next find. Today, mining companies are discovering to their delight that the old timers had, quite literally, barely scratched the surface. In South Carolina, Romarco Minerals Inc. has found what President and CEO Diane Garrett calls “one of the most significant discoveries in our industry in the last 10 years”—already 4.2 million ounces indicated and inferred.
The South Carolina gold rush began in 1827; a year later, Colonel Benjamin Haile sent gold to the US Mint in Philadelphia. Haile established a mine in 1837, just outside Kershaw, SC, about 40 miles southeast of Charlotte. The Haile Gold Mine later furnished gold to the Confederacy before being destroyed by General William Tecumseh Sherman during his March to the Sea.
The Haile family was dispossessed, and his mine languished until the 1880s, when it was revived by new techniques introduced by the legendary German mining engineer Adolf Thies. Under the management of Thies and his sons, Haile became the largest gold producer in the eastern United States. It closed in 1912, four years after a catastrophic explosion.
The last gold production in the area was in 1999, about 12 miles away at Kennecott’s Ridgeway Mine. The Haile property was acquired by Piedmont and joint ventured by Amax Gold, before being bought by Kinross. Diane Garrett and Romarco became interested in it in 2006, after being tipped by one of her geologists, and Romarco bought it in October 2007.
Since January 2008, Garrett says, “We’ve basically been drilling 24 hours a day: about 800 holes, over 200,000 metres.” All that drilling—there are nine rigs now operating—has paid off. A December 2009 NI 43-1010 estimate disclosed 1.47 million ounces measured, 697,000 thousand ounces indicated and 2 million ounces inferred. “But that was a year ago,” Garrett points out, “so it’s quite a bit out of date.”
Especially since the discovery of the Horseshoe Zone. The latest assay results from Horseshoe, released September 20, revealed 46.5 gold per tonne over 19.2 metres and 25.3 gold per tonne over 16.8 metres. Romarco will issue a revised estimate in a month and a feasibility study regarding production early in 2011.
Garrett anticipates production beginning in late 2012: “about 7,000 tons a day, which will yield about 150,000 ounces a year.” She reports that Haile is blessed not only with great resources but also with great infrastructure: “We are right off a paved road, and have power—both nuclear and hydro; this was part of the Tennessee Valley Authority power grid. There are a lot of textile mills in the area which have closed, so there is plenty of excess power available and plenty of water as well.”
The deposit we have is still open in all directions and at depth –Diane Garrett
But what most excites Diane Garrett about Haile is that there is every indication that further exploration will reveal more gold. “We now recognize that we’re in a very prolific area for gold, and we’ve found through our drilling that the deposit that we have is still open in all directions and at depth,” she concludes. “The evidence of what we’ve done is reflected in our stock price. We’ve grown from a very small junior company to over a billion-dollar company today, and that’s been in just three years.”