Is The Planned Gold And Copper Mine Near Cheyenne All Hype?

U.S. Gold Corp is working through the permitting process for a gold and copper mine west of Cheyenne. While developers are optimistic, a mineral economist told Cowboy State Daily he’s skeptical.

July 10, 20234 min read

View of Curt Gowdy State Park from the CK Gold Mine site.
View of Curt Gowdy State Park from the CK Gold Mine site. (Kevin Killough, Cowboy State Daily)

A few times a year, Wyoming media run exciting reports on the discovery of a new deposit of uranium, rare earths or some other valuable mineral. Then a couple years later, there’s no operational mine. 

Most recently, U.S. Gold Corp. has been promoting a planned mine west of Cheyenne, called the CK Gold Project, saying it could be operational by the end of 2024. The company makes no promises, but as with any capital-intensive project seeking investors, its promoters speak with optimism. 

Dr. David Hammond, principal mineral economist for the Hammond International Group, was part of the independent consultant group that reviewed the project for the state of Wyoming. 

“Personally, I'm skeptical of the project up there,” Hammond told Cowboy State Daily. 


A number of big projects reported in state media fizzled out before becoming operational. 

Rare Element Resources’ Bear Lodge Project near Upton, for example, promised jobs and a domestic supply of valuable rare earths. Before the permitting process was complete, the project ran out of cash in 2016. 

In 2011, the Casper Star-Tribune reported that “uranium is back in a big way” in the state’s Shirley Basin. Ur-Energy is still developing a uranium resource in the area. 

Hammond said the area in which the CK Gold Project is located has a long history, going back to the late 1800s. Efforts to develop the resource has continued since. 

Hammond said the area has some unusual mineralogy, which presents technical challenges to getting the metal out of the ground. He said it needs more analysis and testing on the processing side as well. 

“People have played with this for 100 years and really haven't been able to bring it to any kind of economic positivity,” Hammond said. 


Kevin Francis, vice president of exploration and technical services for U.S. Gold Corp, told Cowboy State Daily last week that the company is securing the permits needed for the mine, and it aims to complete those processes before engaging financial institutions to raise money to build it. 

He said there are enthusiastic investors looking at it. 

Hammond said the technical challenges make the project “borderline,” and that’s going to make it difficult to find investors. 

“They're going to take a pretty skeptical look at this. It's not what I call a robust economic project with upside. And by upside, I mean finding more and being able to increase production out there,” Hammond said. 

He said that smaller projects like this also tend to have difficulty finding investors. 

One Perspective 

The project is located entirely on state and private land, which avoids the much more arduous federal permitting process. Hammond said it can still encounter opposition that could slow it down — or even stop it. 

“Wyoming is a permitting-friendly state, but there’s a lot of folks that live out there. How are they going to react to this?” Hammond said. 

At some point, environmental opposition could organize to stop the project, as is often the case with any development. 

Hammond said his opinion of the project was only that, and there are other perspectives that would disagree. 

“I’m personally a little skeptical, but other people smarter than I am are still working with it, like Kevin [Francis],” he said. 

Drop In The Bucket

Hammond also criticized a recent Cowboy State Daily headline suggesting that the mine could help address a projected copper crisis. reported that a recent S&P global report estimated that copper demand will double to 50 million metric tons by 2035, which is more than all the copper consumed worldwide in the last 120 years. 

Hammon said that to meet the projected copper shortfalls, new mines are going to need to be of a similar size to the top-tier ones operating today, which produce 300,000 to 400,000 metric tons per year. 

The CK Gold Project is estimated to produce about 3% to 4% of that.

“Truly a drop in the bucket,” Hammond said.

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