By Dawn Cranfield
A Mining Company with a Heart of Gold – Comstock Mining, Inc.
Comstock Mining, Inc. had their first pour of gold and silver doré, unrefined gold bullion, on September 29, 2012; in October, they hosted a three-day community event celebrating the historic event. The return of mining to the historic Comstock mining district and the community at large means more than just the gold and silver being mined from the hills, it is about the pioneering spirit of a company and the revitalization efforts of the people involved.
At nearly 99.9% US citizenship owned, Comstock Mining, Inc. is a unique company focused solely on the Comstock and the people living in the area. They employ approximately 100 people, and for a small community like Gold Hill, Virginia City, and Silver City, their numbers are significant.
We have all heard how “Mining Works for Nevada”, and, it does; the tax revenue alone from the Lucerne Mine is projected to bring in roughly $500,000 for Storey County during 2013. That is a projected figure based on 20,000 gold equivalent ounces; however, it is only for a year and the project is estimated to last for five years with an expansion that will increase production and add another 10 years of mine life, quite a lot of revenue for the county.
Although, for this exceptional mining company, they are not exclusively interested in exhuming all of the gold and silver they can find and leaving a barren landscape behind; they have a rather different perspective, especially in terms of working in the historic Comstock Lode. John Winfield, the Company’s Chairman is by all assessments, an environmentalist with a love of nature, having received recognition from the National Humane Society and others for his protection of endangered animals and wildlife. Comstock Mining, Inc. has a covenant to preserve, protect, enhance, restore, and celebrate the Comstock Lode, and they have made a commitment to the community and the territory as a whole.
In the state of Nevada, there is no requirement for reclamation (restoration of the land) when a mining company is finished with their project on an open-pit or surface mine, other than to secure the area for safety. Shocking. Still, Comstock Mining, Inc. has pledged 1% annually of
gross revenue towards reclamation. They plan to grade, reseed the area using native grasses, and to leave an area exposed for tourism purposes.
The enthusiasm for the rich history is apparent; the company made repairs to the Dayton Consolidated Mill when they saw it was in need of maintenance and in danger of falling to the ground. Eventually, Comstock Mining, Inc. purchased the site along with other historic mills and wants to restore them to museum quality to open to the public.
In their efforts to revitalize the area, they have also purchased the old Cabin in the Sky; a dilapidated restaurant that used to belong to Joe Conforte. The building has been empty for years; as a tourist driving by, it is mostly an eyesore and a passing nod to the economic downturn of our country. However, this innovative mining company wants to restore it, turning it into a visitor’s center and administrative offices for some of their staff.
The Gold Hill Hotel just a mile south of Virginia City was for sale, the owners ready to retire; it had been on the market for a few years and the 20 or so employees were concerned about losing their jobs. Comstock Mining, Inc. purchased the combination hotel, restaurant, and bar, along with the cottages and Gold Hill Hall across the street.
It isn’t just the economic development and revitalization efforts that make this mining company so distinctive; it is the way they treat their employees.
Marcus, a young miner talked to me one evening, “That guy over there,” pointing to the CEO, Corrado De Gasperis, “Makes me love my job. What other CEO would know every one of our names? Or would even care who we are?” Just then, Corrado walked up and greeted the young man and his two companions by name.
Yes, Marcus, what other CEO would know your name?