Statements contained in this blog, which are not historical facts, including statements about plans, goals and expectations regarding businesses and opportunities, new or existing business strategies, capital resources and future financial results are "forward looking" as contemplated by the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Such forward-looking statements are subject to risks and uncertainties, including, but not limited to, changes in government regulation, generally accepted accounting principles, taxation, competition, general economic conditions and geopolitical conditions. Accordingly, actual results may differ materially from those projected or implied in the forward-looking statements.
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CEO Blog - April 27, 2012
Saturday, April 28 2012 02:08
COMSTOCK MINING CLEARS EXPLORATION PERMIT APPEAL
Question: Are there any more outstanding appeals on your permits? Wasn’t the hearing for the appeal on your exploration permit today?
Answer: There are no outstanding appeals on any of our permits.
Our last permit issued, a Class I, Air Quality Operating Permit, issued by the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection (NDEP) was never appealed. The next previously issued permit, Reclamation Permit No. 0315 was originally scheduled for a hearing before the Nevada State Environmental Commission (NSEC) today but that appeal was recently withdrawn, dropping the last existing challenge to our permits. NDEP also issued that permit and it has been effective since December 31, 2011. The permit authorizes exploration drilling for the Company’s Lyon County exploration and development activities, that is, the Dayton Resource and Spring Valley Target Areas. The NSEC had already dismissed Comstock Resident Association’s (CRA’s) first appeal of the Reclamation Permit at a February 15, 2012 hearing. This second appeal to the exploration permit challenged the Sampling and Analysis Plan (SAP) included in the permit. The appeal was withdrawn without any changes made to the SAP.
The SAP is one of the most extensive plans prepared and implemented within the Carson River Mercury Superfund Site and was approved by NDEP’s Bureau of Corrective Actions (NDEP-BAC). Even with such a thorough and comprehensive plan, we are sampling significantly more locations than required under the SAP. We are not only sampling in areas where we will work, but we are also sampling the majority of the historic workings located within our land holdings. Since approval of the SAP at the end of January 2012, extensive, independent sampling has been conducted by McGinley & Associates, Inc., using the SAP protocols and overseen by NDEP-BAC.
The SAP is working effectively to identify and understand existing soil compositions, clear legacy concerns over potential contaminates and ensure the health and welfare of our employees and the greater Comstock community. Our program goes well beyond similar programs. To date, over 1500 samples have been taken and tested and we are now more rapidly clearing the Comstock of this previously devaluing perception of its landscape.
We have all the permits required for all currently planned exploration programs and mining production. We have initiated all pre-mining construction activities required and remain on schedule to begin pouring gold and silver this summer.
Corrado De Gasperis
President & CEO
CEO Blog - April 23, 2012
Monday, April 23 2012 15:49
Q: Does Comstock Mining try to work with local suppliers? If so, how successful is this approach?
A: Thank you for the thoughtful question. Our objectives are more aggressive than just trying to work with local suppliers. We are developing a stronger local network and genuinely integrating ourselves into the fabric of a more vibrant, sustainable local economy. By local, we don’t just mean the Comstock, Gold Hill and Virginia City but all of Storey County, Lyon County and ultimately greater Nevada.
We are heavily engaged locally now but we continue identifying, approaching and engaging the very best our locality has to offer. In this we have been fortunate, for northern Nevada is proving out as one of the most productive mining infrastructures in the country and the best-of-the-best are often found on our doorstep. This is especially true with direct-to-mining businesses such as assay and metallurgical testing, environmental and engineering consultants, and drilling. McClelland Labs, American Assay Laboratories, SRK Consulting, McGinley and Associates, KB Drilling, DeLong Construction and Drilling are all examples of industry leaders located in close proximity, usually within thirty miles of the Comstock.
Our rolling stock was purchased locally through Cashman Equipment Company, a Nevada based CAT dealer with a state-of-the-art parts and service facility in Reno. Our partnership with Cashman continues as we enter production and they become an important member of the team responsible for the maintenance and deployment of our heavy equipment.
We also just converted all of our propane service, including the Gold Hill Hotel properties, to a locally owned Carson City/Dayton supplier: Comstock Propane. The efficiencies are significant, and we partnered with a family business that has been part of northern Nevada for over 30 years.
Proximity is, of course, only one factor used when determining the most suited partner for a supply need. Innovation, reliability, customer service and environmental sensitivity are all equally important considerations. Remarkably, all of these elements came together recently in a company operating within Storey County: Applied Refining Concepts, LLC. This local company, based out of Carson City with a production facility located in the Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center, has engineered a revolutionary refining process resulting in a Nevada Division of Environmental Protection designated Alternate Fuel: GDieselTM. Our entire fleet will use this progressive fuel that significantly lowers emissions, increases power, increases mileage, all at a cost that is actually less than competitors using traditional fuels. GDieselTM is the perfect example of a partner that fits with Comstock Mining’s long-term need to become an intrinsic part of a systemic and sustainable local economy: one that produces better products with less environmental impact and measurable economic benefit.
We will be announcing a number of significant local contracts in the next few weeks. Our local network enables our “March to Production” as we are very quickly becoming Nevada’s newest gold and silver mining production company.
Corrado De Gasperis
President & CEO
CEO Blog - April 5, 2012
Thursday, April 05 2012 23:19
Q: How does Storey County’s proposal to revise its Mining Ordinance affect Comstock Mining?
A: Thank you for your question. Storey County has been involved in a year-long review process of all of its zoning ordinances, primarily to accommodate technological advances and ensure sufficiency to current public needs. The county is working constructively with land and business owners in cooperation with residents to best achieve the county’s goals while respecting the rights and needs of all parties involved in the process. Preserving the historic significance of the Comstock District is vital and fully consistent with Comstock Mining’s position. The revised Mining Ordinance, in its current draft version, both protects mining rights and includes a provision to establish a boundary preserving the core of the historic district. Inside this boundary, underground mining will be strongly encouraged, but surface mining will be restricted. Most of our mineral targets within this area have long been considered underground targets. As a result, the ordinance does not negatively impact current plans and objectives. In fact, the ordinance specifically allows surface mining outside the proposed boundary, including our Lucerne Resource Area, where surface mining is scheduled to commence in just a few months.
Other conditions in the proposed mining ordinance encourage but regulate mining operations, generally in accordance with existing Nevada and Federal regulations. Where the ordinance strengthens these regulations, our operation is already compliant, as they are consistent with our own commitments to operate safely and responsibly in the historically rich Comstock District.
The county is still doing its diligence and the proposed changes are not yet adopted or in effect. We are closely engaged with the county on this issue and expect a productive outcome with positive implications for the Company and the community.
Corrado De Gasperis
President & CEO
CEO Blog - March 28, 2012
Wednesday, March 28 2012 03:00
Question: Can you provide a more detailed update on production?
Answer: Thank you for the question and yes, we have provided a detailed update in this blog, including many pictures and a short video of some of the production start-up activity from just this past week.
Since we received our “Air Quality Operating Permit to Construct” last month, we have made tremendous progress in our march toward production. These scheduled tasks include hiring the mining and processing staff, completion of the soil sampling program and clearance, installation of a fresh water reservoir, updating the septic system, preparing the Lucerne mine for stripping, expanding the heap leach pad, installing the crusher, expanding the Merrill Crowe processing facility, constructing a fueling station, receiving the new metallurgical lab and procuring fuel, lubricants and spare parts.
We are hiring twenty mine and processing staff, in two phases. The first eight employees are scheduled to start on April 20, augmenting the mine operations team, including heavy equipment operators, and the next twelve employees, in May, for processing operations, including crushing, blasting and Merrill Crowe and metallurgical process staff.
We have completed the soil sampling for the mine and are awaiting final clearance for production. Once received, our mine operations team will commence preparation and stripping. We are currently installing the foundation and liner for our expanded Merrill Crowe facility. The new, expanded Merrill Crowe equipment is ready for shipment once the foundation and liner are completed. In addition, we have commenced construction of a new, one million gallon fresh water reservoir that we will fill and replenish from our existing water wells that will supply our commercial water and fire safety needs. We have received all major components of the crushing facility, including the jaw and cone crusher, the super stacker, conveyors and related components on site. We are scheduled to commence ground preparation for installation of the crusher next week.
American Flat Processing Area (November 2011)
Over the last few months, our team has been preparing for production by constructing the solution pond, expanding and upgrading the heap leach, and Merrill Crowe facility.
Completed 3 million gallon+ solution pond with protective bird discs inside fenced enclosure
Significantly expanding the Merrill Crowe foundation for the larger processing facility (March 2012)
Water well drilling for mine site
Clearing access for fresh water pond (March 2012)
Preparing the one million gallon fresh water
Preparing for the fresh water pipeline (March 2012)
& fire suppression pond (March 2012)
Preparing the leach field for new septic system (March 2012)
Moving rip rap for drainage ditch
Preparing the heap leach pad for new cell construction
The sequence of these major activities includes commencing preparation and stripping in the Lucerne mine, completing the fresh water reservoir, expanding the heap leach, installing the crushing facility, crushing and stacking material. Once material is stacked, we will commence processing with an expectation of pouring Doré within sixty days of stacking the first material.
Rolling stock of 773 series haul trucks
Delivery of wobbler feeder for crusher
Our drilling programs for Lucerne and Dayton should position us for growth in ounces and production, in 2013, and beyond.
Geotech core drilling in Lucerne Resource Geotech core drilling on high wall at Lucerne Resource
Geotech core drilling continues day and night
We also completed our financial analysis for the Lucerne mine and anticipate annual operating expenses, including mining, processing, royalties and mine administration costs of approximately $13 million per annum, with a production schedule that commences processing at a rate of one million tons per annum. These mining, processing and related costs do not include corporate administration or other general and administrative costs, nor do they include exploration and mine development costs.
There is a tremendous amount of positive activity throughout the system as we execute our production schedule and march toward the first pour this summer.
Corrado De Gasperis
President and CEO
CEO Blog - February 22, 2012
Wednesday, February 22 2012 18:34
Q: Congratulations on receiving your Air Quality permit that now enables production activities for 2012. There was also news that the Comstock Residents Association (CRA) filed an appeal hoping to revoke a drilling permit. What is your reaction to the news on the dismissed appeal?
A: Thank you for your question. The appeal you are referring to related to a reclamation permit that allows for safe exploration drilling in our Dayton and Spring Valley Resource Areas located in Lyon County, Nevada.
We are pleased with the State Environmental Commission’s decision to dismiss the appeal. We view the decision as strong validation of the propriety and sufficiency of the State of Nevada’s Department of Environmental Protection (“NDEP”) due process in issuing the permit. It also confirms that the permit complied, and will require Comstock to comply, with all applicable reclamation requirements. We feel this permit reflects NDEP’s thoughtful and thorough consideration of public and environmental safeguards.
We also appreciate the concerns of the residents. In fact, the Sampling and Analysis Plan (SAP) that was approved by NDEP (and that has been incorporated by reference into this reclamation permit), requires independently conducted sampling and clearance of risk zones designated by NDEP as areas with the potential to contain contaminants of concern (mainly mercury used by the “old timers” between 1859 and 1906) before any new exploration-related disturbance occurs.
We feel strongly that this permit reflects the State’s thorough considerations of the unique and rich history of the Comstock and some of the potential risks presented by the possible existence of these historical contaminants. Comstock’s compliance with the permit will ensure safe exploration and reclamation, protection of our people, the community and our disturbed, private lands.
We are perplexed that the CRA is now appealing the sufficiency of the sampling and analysis plan. We feel the SAP is the result of a most thorough and collaborative process that included remarkable input from the residents, the County, NDEP and the United States Environmental Protection Agency. Most of the people we have spoken with recently take great comfort that we have agreed to sample and clear these areas before any new disturbances occur and that NDEP is directly governing an independent sampling and analysis process, fully funded by our company.
For your convenience, we have attached a link to a local article that posted last week, after the State dismissed the appeal.
We are proceeding with our plans for expanding our mineral resources, through this and other permits, and commencing production in 2012, in the most socially and environmentally responsible manner.
Corrado De Gasperis
President and CEO
CEO Blog - February 15, 2012
Wednesday, February 15 2012 17:14
Q: What is the status of your final permit and production update?
A: We are pleased to announce that the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection (NDEP) has issued to the Company a Class I, Air Quality Operating Permit.
This is the final major operating permit that enables our production goals for this year. The permit facilitates our safe transition into production and we now look forward to hiring the remaining operating personnel and commencing operations.
Receipt of NDEP’s Class I Air Quality Operating Permit to Construct (OPTC) AP1041-2761 (FIN A0404) authorizes the remaining construction and pre-mining work culminating in the production of gold and silver later this year. The Company will now begin organizing and implementing certain scheduled tasks including final pond constructions, followed by the installation of the crushing facility, installation of the expanded Merrill Crowe facility, and completing the expansion of the Heap Leach pad. Mine preparation, and ore stock piling will follow in a scheduled sequence, optimized to ensure the earliest possible gold production.
Newly Fenced Solution Pond at American Flat
These activities complement ongoing pre-production activities that were independent of the Air Quality permit, including the recent completion of the Company’s new process solution pond, acquisition of a metallurgical lab and progressing the environmental sampling in the starter pit area.
We are now in the final phases of our project schedule for production startup. We look forward to the first pour, production growth on our Comstock properties and positive cash generation from the starter mine.
Corrado De Gasperis
President & CEO
CEO Blog - February 13, 2012
Monday, February 13 2012 20:16
Q: Why is Comstock Mining raising money right before going into production?
A: We recently concluded pricing an equity offering raising $15 million from an outstanding group of U.S. based institutional and retail investors. The transaction attracted some of the most reputable institutional investors in our segment and meaningfully strengthened our investor and capital base.
Our 2010 recapitalization and capital raise was designed to fund the Starter Mine production activities, land acquisitions, working capital and exploration and we continue to use those funds for those purposes.
The capital raised from our recent offering will primarily fund our targeted and expanded exploration and development model for our Lucerne, Dayton and Spring Valley Resource Areas. Based on the strong success of last year’s 125,000-foot plus drilling program, the recently received exploration permits that authorize exploration drilling at the Lucerne, Dayton and Spring Valley Areas and the strong probability for completing expanded mine plans for Lucerne and Dayton by the end of 2012, we felt strongly that further funding the acceleration of these projects is the most value enhancing opportunity for our Company and our shareholders. The Lucerne and Dayton mine plans also enable us to launch the expanded permitting processes for these two, larger mine plans. The work of our core team of geologists and mine planners have presented a more complete model for the drilling efforts in 2012, that are already starting to show exciting results.
2012 Drill Program, Spring Valley Resource Area (taken February 5, 2012)
This capital allows for the achievement of greater resource and potentially reserve expansion in 2012, securing expanded permitting and ultimately, consistent production growth, from 20,000 gold equivalent ounces per annum in the Lucerne Starter Mine, to the potential of up to 100,000 ounces per annum in each of Lucerne and Dayton. We are excited by the exploration results to date, as they validate our current modeling to expand our exploration targets for our drilling program in 2012. We believe these activities will be accretive to our shareholders.
We are confident our capital will continue to be deployed for the best returns for all shareholders, by more rapidly expanding the resource, commencing and growing production and cash flows and building an asset base that will serve the company and provide outstanding returns for many years into the future.
Corrado De Gasperis
President and CEO
CEO Blog - January 31, 2012
Tuesday, January 31 2012 17:05
Air Quality Permit Recommended for Issuance
Production Activities Poised to Escalate
Q: What happened at the January 26th public hearing for the Air Quality Permit? Does this impact when we go into production?
A: Thank you for your question. This blog also updates my blog posted December 19, 2011.
On Thursday, January 26th, the Bureau of Air Pollution Control of the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection (NDEP) held a public hearing for Comstock Mining’s Air Quality Permit. The permit was recommended for issuance. This means that the Company will receive the permit after NDEP responds in writing to the comments received at the hearing. This is likely to occur in the middle to end of February, and issuance is assured.
Receipt of the Air Quality Permit will trigger final construction activities and the commencement of mining. It is the final permit required to begin mining the Lucerne Starter Mine. Once the permit is issued, the Company has approximately five months of remaining construction activities including land clearing, excavation and leveling primarily associated with pre-stripping, mine preparation and stock piling, the installation of the crushing facility, the installation of the expanded Merrill Crowe facility, and the completed expansion of our Heap Leach and Process Solution Ponds.
All activities that can occur prior to receipt of the Air Quality Permit are scheduled and proceeding according to plan. These include the completion of our new process solution pond, final design of the expanded Merrill Crowe and Metallurgical Lab, Environmental Sampling in the Starter Pit Area, and Starter Pit Core Drill tests. We anticipate timely completion of all these tasks and an immediate transition into those activities needing the permit.
Additional Blogs later this week will update exploration drilling and the environmental soil sampling program. A Production Update Press Release will follow and will summarize the current status of all activities.
Q: Are you still planning on beginning the next phase of exploratory drilling in January 2012 with the next 43-101 in September? If so, what areas will that program cover?
A: Thank you for your question. We do indeed plan on commencing our drilling in January. We are very pleased to announce that the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection (NDEP) has issued a Reclamation Permit (No. 0315) authorizing the Dayton Consolidated Exploration Project, effectively authorizing exploration drilling for our two major targets in Lyon County, both at the Dayton and Spring Valley Areas. The permit was web posted on December 20th, 2011 (http://ndep.nv.gov/docs_11/permit_0315_122011.pdf), and will become effective December 31st, 2011 following a ten day public appeal period. This permit authorizes the reclamation of exploration drilling in Lyon County, including the Phase III in-fill drilling program for the Dayton Resource Area and Phase I exploration of the Spring Valley Area.
Together with the Special Use Permit issued by Storey County in October of this year, the receipt of this latest permit fully authorizes Comstock Mining’s proposed 2012 Drilling Programs. As a condition of both permits, soil assessments will commence in January to determine the levels of Mercury in previously disturbed areas, around historic mill sites and tailings. The purpose of this program is to ascertain the actual levels of contamination and potentially remove exploration targets from the Carson River Mercury Superfund Site designation. The program will be conducted in compliance with the sampling and analysis plan approved by the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection’s Bureau of Corrective Actions. Initial testing should allow site-specific exploration operations to begin in late January or early February.
The 2012 Drilling program will focus on two main areas: 1.) Multiple Phase drilling in the East-Side of the Lucerne Resource Area; 2.) Complete Phase III in-fill drilling in the Dayton Resource Area. Both exploration programs will build upon the findings reported in our latest 43-101 Technical Report (September 30, 2011) reporting 1.27 M ounces of gold and 12.59 M ounces of silver in the Lucerne Area, and 238,000 ounces of gold and 1.77 M ounces of silver in the Dayton. Both programs will be designed to provide sufficiency to develop economic mine plans. In the Lucerne, that mine will likely expand the currently permitted boundaries of the starter mine going into production in 2012. In the Dayton, a second mine will be evaluated for potential parallel development.
Late 2012 plans also call for Phase I exploration drilling of the Spring Valley Area. This program will be designed to verify the continuity of the geologic model southward beyond State Route 341 into predominately unexplored land. We are encouraged by the findings of one drill hole (SV09-05) that intersected 0.157 ounce gold per ton from 40 to 85 feet of depth. The goal of the program will be to provide information accessing the potential of an additional Resource Area.
Based on these plans, we would anticipate needing an update to our current NI 43-101 in late 2012, likely in the fourth quarter.
Have a Happy and Safe New Year celebration. With our production and exploration objectives now set, 2012 is shaping up to be a fantastic year for Comstock Mining.
Corrado De Gasperis
President and CEO
CEO Blog - December 22, 2011
Thursday, December 22 2011 22:03
Q: Can you provide an update on activities leading to production?
A: This has definitely become a most frequently asked question. The recent flurry of activity around the mine has created a great deal of excitement and, of course, further questions about our march to production. I recently (see the December 19, blog) discussed completing the first lining layer on the new three million gallon+ processing pond. The Pond linings have now been completed! This was a weather sensitive activity and it is very satisfying to see it finally completed.
We have also begun receiving our new mining equipment. This week we received a significant delivery of rolling stock, dozers and a loader.
CMI’s rolling stock delivery through Gold Canyon escorted by Nevada Highway Patrol
Below you will find a number of photographs that catalog our newly arrived equipment. The delivery from Cashman (CAT) Equipment Company included a 773F Haul Truck; aD6 LGP Track Dozer, a 834B Rubber Tire Dozer, a 988G Loader, a 773D Haul Truck and a D8R Track Dozer.
The two haul trucks represent the first two of five that we will use in production. All five vehicles are 50-ton trucks. Deliveries will continue next week and should finish up with final deliveries in January. Please keep an eye on our website as we try and provide as much visual (a picture is worth a thousand words) of this construction, assembly and commencement, as possible.
Have a warm and safe holiday season.
Corrado De Gasperis
President and CEO
773F Haul Truck (on lowboy)
773F Haul Truck driving up Haul Road
773D Haul Truck (on lowboy)
773D Haul Truck driving up Haul Road
D6 LGP Track Dozer on American Flat Road
834B Rubber Tire Dozer, observed by CMI’s Cliff Nelson, Randy Harris & Ran Bruder
988G Loader transported through Gold Canyon
D8R Track Dozer transported to American Flat Processing Facility
CEO Blog - December 19, 2011
Monday, December 19 2011 04:28
Question: What is the status of the Air Quality Permit? Does this impact when we go into production?
Answer: Thank you for your question. This blog also updates my blog posted December 7, 2011.
We just moved into the final stage of the Air Quality Permit process. We understand, from the Bureau of Air Pollution Control of the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection (NDEP), that our Air Quality Permit will be offered to public comment Wednesday. Official notice has been sent to local newspapers and a preliminary date for the Public Hearing has been scheduled for Thursday, January 26th..
The Air Quality Permit is the last major step in the regulatory approval process that enables final construction activities and the commencement of mining. The permit assures compliance with all engineering and environmental specifications applicable to our operation and, accordingly, we anticipate a smooth, final transition from public notice to public hearing to final issuance.
This permit is required before we can construct the remaining components of our production system and production can commence. We have scheduled a complete set of prerequisite activities that can occur prior to construction. These are all currently in progress (for example, the completion of our new process solution pond, final design of the expanded Merrill Crowe and Metallurgical Lab, final Starter Pit Core Drill tests and Environmental Sampling in the Starter Pit Area) that will ensure an immediate transition to post-Air Quality Permit activities, including our new crushing facility, our new expanded Merrill Crowe processing facility and the final expansion on our Heap Leach and Process Solution Ponds. This allows for an efficient transition into a gold producing mine.
About eight weeks ago, we commenced construction on our new three-million+ gallon process solution pond. We have now completed the excavation and initial lining of this pond and we are currently installing the final layer. Construction remains on track for completion before year-end and the weather appears to be cooperating.
I have included a short video here showing the recent work on the process pond.
Process Pond at American Flat (video by Scott Jolcover)
Once the Air Quality Permit is issued, the Company has approximately five months of remaining construction activities including land clearing, excavation and leveling, primarily associated with pre-stripping, mine preparation and stock piling, the installation of the crushing facility and installation of the expanded Merrill Crowe facility.
American Flat Process Pond (photo taken 2011 Dec 19)
We are in a very exciting march towards production and we are enhancing our website to reflect this. We are adding to the Plant & Production area of our website, a “March to Production” section that will document our progress with photos, articles and video. Once the permit is received, activities will accelerate. We feel this new channel on the website will be informative for anyone interested in watching the journey towards our first of many, many pours.