I do not know if the following is true: my father used to say that the only person on the mine who is assured of a new facility is the mill manager. The reason my father gave is this: when you rework the concrete foundations of the mill you recovery so much gold that it pays for a new mill and turns a tidy profit. Apparently, the old mill spilt so much solution that the concrete of the slabs and foundations of the mill were indurated with recoverable gold.
This silly recollection came back to me today when I chatted with a young man who is charged with evaluating the possibility that his company’s patent process will get more gold out of slag from old mines.
My first reaction: is there still slag sitting around waiting to be reprocessed for gold? I would have thought that by now all slag with gold would have been reworked. He assured me this is not the case. He said that he has slag from some un-named source that with his proprietary process could yield gold profit. Sic transit mundi.
I know there is much gold still sitting around in old tailings impoundments. There is that pile to the far end of Telluride, Colorado. Surely it has gold enough to merit reworking. Pity is that the old pile is part of the ambience of the town, albeit that it is an old mine artifact. That is what makes it romantic.
I bet that if you go to Central City, Colorado and ignore the opera house and rather rework those old dumps easily seen from the middle of town, that you will get lots of old gold. You may change the ambience of the town, but who cares? You will have more gold to put in a Chinese vault.
Damn me! At a particular price getting gold from sea water is profitable. There is a vast ocean out there. Go for it.
I once dealt with closure of pits in Pennsylvania that contained uranium waste. In Allentown there are ten pits full of crap that is radio-active. Probably still not dealt with. The guys who put the crap there went around the country buying anything that had a bit of uranium in it. They bought broken glass from research labs, cadavers injected with uranium to study disease, x-ray plates, and so on. They brought this detritus back to Allentown on the Kiskemetas River, took out the uranium, made pellets, and sold the pellets to the Rickover Navy for use in submarines using radioactive pellets.
They dumped the waste in ten pits on a farm upland. As far as I know the stuff is still there. A classic community conflict: those close to the pits want it gone; those along the transport route vow to lie down and die before a truck carrying radio-active waste passes their house. Those Pennsylvania ladies are shrill and dramatic! So nothing happens as they scream at one another.
I bet we could pay for the proper closure of all abandoned mines if we permitted some miner to go in and rework all the waste to get out residual gold, etc. Unlikely to happen as the old committee queens and loud ladies will protest. Pity because we could make money and clean thing up at a profit. But who cares about capitalism? Socialism is so much more beguiling and assuaging. Kind of like a good opera in which the evil perish and the good triumph.
Point is that at current commodity prices almost any way of getting more gold and uranium is profitable. And so too for iron ore. Unless the Chinese bubble bursts, which I predict is about to happen. Then we can return to basics: what amount of gold is needed to fill rotting teeth; how many computers need gold connections; and how many Indian ladies need a dowry of gold crap to get a sexy guy?
Enough. The brandy takes effect and truth degenerates into speculation. What is your opinion?