The drastic drop in the value of gold has not affected the day-to-day operation of the Cripple Creek and Victor Gold Mining Company.
That word came from Jane Mannon, community affairs manager for the mining company.
“It doesn’t impact our operation,” Mannon said. “It doesn’t change what we do on a day-to-day basis. It might affect future plans, but as of now it’s business as usual.”
As of this writing, the price for an ounce of gold is about $1,250 – down about 30 percent from 2011 when it topped more than $1,800 an ounce.
Despite the sharp decline, Mannon said employment at the Victor facility is at an all-time high. There are currently more than 500 folks employed at the massive mine. CC&V estimates it will have as many as 600 employees by 2015.
“We have several projects going on,” Mannon said. “We’re adding more equipment and hiring more equipment operators. That also means more mechanics.”
CC&V began operations in 1976 when the price of gold was about $140 an ounce. The value shot up to more than $800 an ounce in 1980 – $2,500 an ounce in today’s dollars.
In 1995, the large-scale “Cressen Project” began when gold was at $200 an ounce. Mannon said contacts are in place to continue mining gold through 2026.
“We have a plan and we’re proceeding with that plan,” she said. “We’re not laying off people and we’re not looking to make any changes.”
Since 1995, CC&V has been pulling more than 200,000 ounces of gold out of the ground every year, or about 675 ounces a day.
“We don’t hold gold hoping the price goes up,” Mannon said. “We do rough refining and then we sell it to a refinery.”
Mining the gold is an open pit process that involves loading the ore onto trucks, then pouring liquid cyanide on the ore to separate the gold. The mine’s expansion has claimed quite a bit of land, including the Squaw Gulch area west of Cripple Creek.
The Cripple Creek area gold deposits occur within a seven square mile volcanic-intrusive complex. The rocks within the complex consist mostly of breccias, dikes, sills, and flows with minor amounts of fossil-bearing lake sediments, sandstones, conglomerates, and fresh-water limestones.
Most of the gold mined in the early days of the district came from the high-grade gold telluride veins.
CC&V opened an information center in Cripple Creek in June 2012. The center is located at 371 E. Bennett Ave.
The center was opened to give CC&V a presence in Cripple Creek and provide a location for people to look at permit application documents and find out about CC&V’s operations.