SPEARFISH, S.D. (AP) — A junior mineral exploration company is making a new push to find gold in the Black Hills.
Solitario Zinc Corp. arrived in Spearfish in July. Todd Christensen, a geologist with Solitario, says the company was invited to evaluate some claims from a group of investors and "we saw it as an opportunity to get our foot in the door and to evaluate exploration potential.”
Solitario will be combing through 580 mining claims that make up about 11,600 acres of land in Lawrence County.
Christensen said the company plans to conduct a multi-year surface exploration program and intends to look for deposits like the Homestake deposit.
The former Homestake Mine near Lead became the largest and deepest gold mine in North America and generated 40 million ounces of gold during its 126-year life. In 2002, it closed and became an underground research facility. Homestake’s origins were in the Black Hills gold rush of the 1870s.
“That’s going to be an expensive and long-term exploration strategy," he said of the project. “Currently, we’re collecting samples to get an understanding of the geology and the mineralization potential."
Christensen told the Black Hills Pioneer that Solitario has focused on zinc in recent years, but expanded to gold after a geologist with South Dakota roots gave a presentation at a mineral exploration conference in Toronto.
“Solitario’s CEO Chris Herald had recognized the significance of the Homestake deposit and that globally most of the giant ore deposits like Homestake have significant exploration potential,” Christensen said.
Solitario has 12 employees and contractors on the project. Most were hired locally or sourced from the Black Hills State University geology program to collect samples and perform basic reconnaissance on the claims. Christensen said the company is working with a graduate student with South Dakota roots who has ideas about how to use new technology and exploration methods in the Black Hills.
Solitario Zinc Corp has its roots in Crown Resources Corp., which was started in 1984. The smaller, junior exploration company was formed in 1993 to conduct mineral exploration in Latin America and is a U.S. company, publicly traded on the New York and Toronto Stock Exchanges.