A Mining Company with a Heart of Gold – Comstock Mining, Inc

Lucerne Mine 12/06/12
Lucerne Mine 12/06/12

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

First Dore Pour 09/28/12
First Dore Pour 09/28/12

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.

Dayton Consolidated Mill
Dayton Consolidated Mill

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?

9 Responses to "A Mining Company with a Heart of Gold – Comstock Mining, Inc"

  1. Glen   August 28, 2013 at 11:24 pm

    Just trying to connect before I leave…

  2. masomenos   January 31, 2013 at 4:13 pm

    I thought I posted about this, but my comment never appeared. Sorry if I’ve double posted somehow.

    Dawn, as you could have easily discovered, the state of Nevada most certainly requires reclamation for both mining exploration and mining, along with the posting of bond sufficient to cover it (http://ndep.nv.gov/bmrr/index.htm). Comstock Mining Inc is doing nothing out of the goodness of their hearts. I think you have been sand-bagged by CMI on this story.

    I hope you’ll decide to actually do some real reporting about this project and its very complex ramifications regarding the integrity of the Virginia City National Historic Landmark and health and safety of residents and visitors.

    People with the other side of the story are easy to find: just look for the “no open pit” signs!

    • dawn7   May 13, 2013 at 10:34 am

      Thank you for your response and adding some real insight into this conflict.
      While I am certain you mean well, what I do is actual reporting; there is confirmation of such with the other articles I have written on a variety of other topics, not just mining in Nevada or in the historic Comstock Mining District. I pride myself on my objectivity.
      As it pertains to the link you provided, The Nevada Division of Environmental Protection regulates mining both directly and as it pertains to other agencies (federal, local, and state); it does not specifically outline what CMI would be responsible for in regards to reclamation.

      However, the Nevada Revised Statutes (NRS) does determine what CMI and all mines have to do in order to return the land back to its’ original state, or as close as possible.
      Nevada and its leaders have seen the benefit of mining; it is demonstrated by NRS. 519A.010.1.a where it reads verbatim that the Legislature finds “The extraction of minerals by mining is a basic and essential activity making an important contribution to the economy of the State of Nevada.”

      In regards to what CMI is responsible for with reclamation, NRS 519A.230. (Provisions of plan for reclamation; exceptions) “A plan for reclamation must provide: (a) That reclamation activities, particularly those relating to the control of erosion, must be conducted simultaneously with the mining operation to the extent practicable, and otherwise must be initiated promptly upon the completion or abandonment of the mining operation in any area that will not be subject to further disturbance. Reclamation activities must be completed within the time set by the regulations adopted by the Commission pursuant to NRS 519A.160. (b) For vegetative cover if appropriate to the future use of the land. (c) For the reclamation of all land disturbed by the exploration project or mining operation to a stability comparable to that of adjacent areas. 2. The operator may request the Division to grant an exception for open pits and rock faces which may not be feasible to reclaim. If an exception is granted, the Division shall require the operator to take sufficient measures to ensure public safety.”

      Like all things governmental, the language “to the extent practicable” and “if appropriate”, leaves the document open to interpretation and loopholes.
      However, CMI did not look for those ambiguities or ask for exceptions as noted in NRS 519A.230.2, so they could perform the bare-minimum and simply leave the pit with safety barricades and signs; much uglier than their designs for the future. IN fact, they have committed unprecedented royalties for both enhanced reclamation and restoration, already spend millions on soil sampling in the district with any precedent legal requirement to do so and committed additional royalties for restoration of badly deteriorating, poorly in at all maintained historic treasure. How do say they have done nothing out of the goodness of their hearts?

      Again, thank you for trying to take the time to educate me on this incredibly complex and obviously emotional issue; I understand some people are very sensitive to what is occurring in the area but staying objective despite these emotions and importance will likely result in a more collaborative, productive enhancement of the Comstock.
      I am sorry for the delay in responding.

      Sincere regards,

  3. ron footer   December 28, 2012 at 5:22 am

    I’ve been a follower of 321gold for years, and have followed all the articles for Comstock, duly impressed with the way they do business. At different times I thought I’d buy stock, and sadly didn’t. I’ve since seen the errors of my ways, and as Bob M would say, “do your own due diligence”, that said i’ve purchased stock on two occasions, and plan on more. They are a leader in how mining companies should conduct themselves.
    Ron F. stockholder

  4. Graham Russell   December 26, 2012 at 1:24 pm

    Great story. I’m currently conducting a research and book project on the subject of sustainable business practices in small and mid-sized enterprises (SMEs). We’re looking at the reasons why so many SMEs don’t “get” the business benefits of sustainable business practices and examining the sustainability journeys of those that do. We believe it’s important to conduct this project on an industry by industry basis and one of our first targets will be the extraction industry, which is inherently problematice from a sustainability standpoint.

    We are actively seeking published content on SMEs that have embraced sustainability principles as a driver of their corproate strategy and will be featuring them on our upcoming web site: sustainability4smes.com, which will be up and running in January. We will feature this story right away.

    Thansk for this fine example of sustainability success.

  5. David Howard   December 15, 2012 at 11:48 pm

    Pleased to be a stockholder.

    • dawn7   December 16, 2012 at 4:21 pm

      Thank you for posting; I was so happy to be able to cover their story. They are such an amazing group, in a day and age where so many employers do not care about their employees, I was duly impressed. They are pioneers.


  6. Mark   December 14, 2012 at 7:03 am

    Great Company with a great story! Glad to see the positive coverage. In this day and age of many fly-by-nights coming and going, it’s refreshing to see a miner take a responsible interest in its community. They’re in it for the long haul and it shows. Good work Comstock Mining, looking forward to your next 43-101 in January.

    • dawn7   December 14, 2012 at 10:10 am

      Thank you for your positive response. I was equally impressed by everything I saw with this company; at a time when you see so many businesses turning their backs on employees, it is incredible to see such loyalty, not only to the employees, but to the land and to the community at large.

      Comstock Mining, Inc. is certainly a pioneering corporation.



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