Despite Pace Of Gold Mine Permitting, Landowner Says Wyoming Bureaucrats Are Lazy And Holding It Up

The planned CK Gold Project west of Cheyenne isnt located on any federal land, making the permitting process much faster than it would have been if the feds were involved. Its still not fast enough for landowner Walt Ferguson, who says lazy state bureaucrats are holding it up.

March 01, 20234 min read

CK Gold Mine Jason Begger mine pit location 11 2 22
(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

Hardly a day goes by when a company doesn’t announce future jobs at a new mining operation in Wyoming years down the road. The CK Gold Project west of Cheyenne, however, looks like it’s going to move forward.  

Gold King Corp., the operating entity under U.S. Gold Corp., filed its industrial siting application this month with the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality, for a silver, gold and copper mine.

Once the company has permits from DEQ and Laramie County, construction of the facilities will take about 18 months, and then the mine is estimated to operate for approximately 10 years before it’s reclaimed.  

Extremely Lazy 

The project is entirely on private and state land, meaning the federal government isn’t involved in permitting, so compared to other mining projects, the regulatory process is moving quickly.  

Despite the speed of the process, Walt Ferguson, whose family owns the Ferguson Ranch where part of the project will be located, told Cowboy State Daily it’s not fast enough.

“There’s no reason they can’t do that right away,” Ferguson said. “They could get it done if it were not for the bureaucrats in this state. They are just extremely lazy. And guess what? The governor doesn’t care.”  

Ferguson said the state is losing millions of dollars in revenue it could have now if it would just permit the mine and let the construction begin.  

Ferguson said he didn’t really want the mine, but it was a choice between making some money or making no money on the land.

The reclamation work at the end of the mine’s operational life, he said, will leave the area in much better shape than it is now. So he’s eager to get it started, finished and reclaimed.  

“No, the bureaucrats are too lazy to accomplish the job that they need to do. This is what’s so frustrating about it,” Ferguson said.  

Good Information 

Kieth Guille, outreach and public information officer for the DEQ, told Cowboy State Daily that an industrial siting permit is needed anytime a project is $253 million in capital construction costs or more. Guille said that once the application is submitted, state statute requires it to go before the Industrial Siting Council within 90 days.

“There’s no ifs, ands or buts. There’s no extension,” Guille said. 

After the hearing, the permit or denial of a permit has to be signed within 45 days of the hearing. The hearing for the CK Gold Project is on May 10 in Cheyenne. 

Jason Begger, government affairs and community relations for U.S. Gold Corp., told Cowboy State Daily, that the application provides detailed information about the project that the public would find useful. 

“It provides a little bit more evidence that the project makes sense, and it gives regulators and stakeholders more confidence that the project isn’t going to have major impacts,” Begger explained. 

Industrial siting, Begger said, was the result of new mines, power plants and other big projects coming into Wyoming communities in the 1970s and 1980s, and they didn’t always plan for the amount of housing, emergency services, and utilities that was needed to support them.  

Begger said the application will provide anyone interested in the project, including residents, regulators, and elected officials, with a lot of information to answer their questions.  

The document cost the company about $250,000, Begger said, which included an $86,000 application fee.  

Taxes And Jobs 

According to the application, the construction period is estimated to begin in the first quarter of 2024, and the monthly average workforce will vary from 26 at the start of construction to 349 at its peak. During operations, the mine will employ approximately 255 people.  

The estimated property taxes will be around $2 million annually, with $18.7 million paid out over the life of the mining operation. The mine is also set to generate nearly $34 million in gross products tax during operations.  

The mined rock will be drilled and blasted from an open pit, loaded into haul trucks, and transported to facilities for processing. Total excavation is estimated to be about 135 million tons.

The company hired a traffic consultant, to determine the impacts of traffic going to and from the mine on Happy Jack Road.  The company plans to operate buses from Cheyenne to the project to reduce employee traffic on Happy Jack Road, which leads to the mine. There will be semi-trucks going to and from the mine.

The consultant determined that the increased traffic load will not substantially degrade the roads the traffic will use.

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