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Comstock Mining Inc

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Comstock Mining Inc


Disclaimer:

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 - December 7, 2011
Wednesday, December 07 2011 21:00
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Q:  What is the status of the Air Quality Permit? Is something wrong?  Does this impact when we go into production? 

A: Thank you for the inquiries.  Again, we have received several similar inquiries and this blog also serves as an update to my blog of November 14, 2011.

As previously reported, we are in the final stages of the Air Quality Permit, to be issued by the State of Nevada Department of Environmental Protection (NDEP). This permit is required before we can construct the remaining components of our production system and production can commence.  These components include our new crushing facility, our new expanded Merrill Crowe processing facility and the final expansion on our Heap Leach and Process Solution Ponds.  The initial application for this permit was submitted in 2010. Since that time, the program has been significantly revised by the state, amended by Federal oversight, and most recently further iterated by the Nevada Mining Association to accommodate industry input beneficial to the final outcome. Unfortunately, we have been in the middle of many of these regulatory adjustments and the process has created some delays. However, although I appreciate the heightened concerns, I want to reiterate that we will receive this permit. It is a matter of “when,” not “if.”

First let me address the question of when. Normally state permits have guidelines that establish the worst-case turnaround time from submittal to receipt. This “clock” can be extended because of re-engineering by the applicant (a small amount of which we have done), but in general it is well adhered to deadline. Under normal circumstances, that “clock” would have expired in late November, including the extensions caused by our revisions, moved to mid-December and we could have been issued our permit. Since the parameters establishing the Air Quality Permit itself are being finalized during this process and subject to changes and interpretations establishing policy (to date these changes have generally been positive), the “clock” has been “extended.”

Our team has been in weekly and even daily contact with NDEP representatives over the past couple months. Although delays are frustrating (to the state as well as to us), the state has been generally communicative as to the cause of each delay; and, given the circumstances, their reasons answer questions to our satisfaction.

According to the most current update given to us Monday, December 5th, additional modeling is currently being completed by the state to ensure full compliance with the latest requirements. Following that, the permit will go to public notice for a minimum of 30 days. It is our understanding that a public hearing will be scheduled approximately 30 days from the beginning of the public notice period. Since the permit is written to statutory requirements and objections can only be made to the engineering supporting those requirements, we expect the permit to issue soon after the public hearing. This is our best understanding of a timeframe that in the end is controlled by the state.

About 6 weeks ago, we commenced construction on our new three-million+ gallon process solution pond. This was a time sensitive activity because colder weather may have interfered with completion before the winter. We have nearly completed the excavation of this pond and, earlier this week, the liners for this expanded process solution pond arrived and lining activities have begun.  The weather was very cooperative and we certainly expect completion before year-end.

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This has significantly and positively mitigated the delays experienced from the Air Quality permit. I have included a picture here from the recent process pond construction that was taken just a few days ago as well as photos of the arrival of the liners.

 

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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. 

As a reminder, we have also scheduled delivery of remaining equipment during this week (and early next week). This delivery represents the remaining rolling stock for continuing production activities and I will blog that event next week and provide the update on Air Quality, as soon as we are notified that it has gone to public notice.

In summary, we are working within existing permits and constructively marching toward production.

Kindest regards,

Corrado De Gasperis
President and CEO

 

 
CEO Blog - November 14, 2011
Tuesday, November 15 2011 00:49
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Question:  We have not seen an announcement from NDEP for the Comment Period for the Air Permit. There is a 30 day period for comments after the announcement and then there would be another 30 day period after the Hearing date announcement. This would push getting the Air Permit well into January next year. Why the delay with this permit process and will it effect your efforts to get to production by Spring 2012?  Have you been able to put in any of the liners in the new leach ponds yet or did the cold weather set in before you could do this? 

Answer: Thank you for the inquiries.  We have received several similar inquiries.

I’ll answer the second question first because we have good progress to report.  On October 14, 2011, the Company was granted authorization, through a Notice and Findings Order # 2011-22, to fully construct and line a process solution pond.  This pond is a prerequisite for production but also enables compliance with our recently modified Water Pollution Control Permit #NEV 2000109.  

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American Flat Processing Area (yellow block indicates the new Process Solution Pond area)

 

About 3 weeks ago, we commenced construction on a three million+ gallon process solution pond.  This was a time sensitive activity because colder weather may have interfered with completion before the winter.  We certainly expect completion before year-end and have progressed sufficiently so that weather should not delay us.  This has significantly and positively mitigated the delays experienced from the Air Quality permit.  I have included a picture here from the recent process pond construction that we took just a few days ago.

 

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American Flat Processing Area (November 2011)

 

Additionally, we have received approval from NDEP to rip the heap in preparation for addition of ore and solution.  So once the permit is received, we can move forward with the expansion of the Merrill Crowe process facility.

The Company expects the Air Quality Permit to go to public notice this month.  Although that does require public notice for 30 days, we understand the hearing date will be scheduled 30 days from the beginning of the public notice period. Over the last few weeks, we have iterated the Air Quality permit application with NDEP several times and we are moving very close to public notice.  Since we expect public notice this month, we expect the hearing and the issuance to be in late December.     

During this process, the Nevada Mining Association made significant progress with the State of Nevada in better defining the new Air Quality Permit parameters and how they best apply to us.  These changes, although delaying the permit by a few more weeks, are extremely beneficial to the company.  We believe the changes will result in a much more efficient measuring and monitoring process, with both the state and ultimately, the federal government.

Once issued, the Company has approximately six months of construction activities including land clearing, excavation and leveling associated with the installation of the crushing facility and installation of the expanded Merrill Crowe facility.  We have already received most of the major components of the new crushing facility on site.

 

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Goodfellow 36” x 150’ SuperStacker

 

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Goodfellow 400 Horsepower K400 Cone Crusher

 

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Goodfellow 7’ x 20’ Double Deck Vibrating Screen, proudly built in the USA

 

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Delivery of the Grove 40-Ton All Terrain Crane to Gold Hill, NV

 

 

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Grove 40-Ton All Terrain Crane

 

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CAT 988G Loader                                            CAT 14H Road Grader

 

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CAT 834B Rubber Tire Dozer

 

 

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CAT D6 with LGP Track                                 CAT 246C Skid Steer Loader

 

 

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CAT 773F Haul Truck                                                 CAT D8 Track Dozer

 

We have also scheduled delivery of remaining equipment during the first week of December. This includes five Caterpillar 773 Haul Trucks, three Caterpillar 988G Bucket Loaders, one Caterpillar 834 wheel dozer, one Caterpillar D8R Track dozer, one Caterpillar D6 LPG track dozer, one Caterpillar skid steer loader and one Kenworth 4100 gallon water truck.  This delivery represents the remaining rolling stock for continuing production activities.

 

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Production preparation at American Flat Processing Area

 

In summary, we are marching very methodically towards production.  We look forward to it in 2012, and we believe the first pour will be an incredibly well attended event. 

Kindest regards,

Corrado De Gasperis
President and CEO

 

 

 

 

 
CEO Blog - September 30, 2011
Friday, September 30 2011 23:35
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Question:  Your last public disclosure indicates that the next update of the Company’s NI 43-101 technical report was scheduled for completion in September and that future press releases will announce the report and highlight additional findings.  Is the report on track?

Answer: Yes, we have completed all of our geological analysis and submitted all of the drilling results and resource analysis to Behre Dolbear and Behre Dolbear has completed substantially all of their fieldwork.   These drilling results include over 350 new holes of drilling data totaling over 125,000 feet, drilled both the Lucerne and Dayton resource areas and reflects the largest, most productive exploration and development drilling program in the Company’s history.  The Behre Dolbear report will be dated September 30, 2011 and we anticipate a full, final draft from Behre Dolbear later next week.  We will incorporate all findings in the report into a press release, as indicated, and release those results the week of October 10.

 We intend to post the new, full report when it becomes available. Previous technical reports can also be found on our website at: http://www.comstockmining.com/properties/technical-reports

We very much look forward to releasing and sharing these extremely productive results.

 

Kindest regards,

Corrado De Gasperis
President and CEO

 
CEO Blog - September 26, 2011
Monday, September 26 2011 13:44
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Question:  Are you only allowed to do exploratory drilling (and not mining?) on only 10 acres at a time? The residents have filed an appeal to the decision by the planning commission whereby they unanimously recommended approval of your permit request for expanded mineral exploration drilling rights. If you win the appeal, how are you going to make any money only being able to work on 10 acres at a time? 

Answer:  Thank you for your question regarding the Special Use Permit (SUP) application for expanded mineral exploration rights in the southern portion of our land holdings in Storey County.  It should be clarified that this exploration permit application is separate and distinct from our existing SUP in Storey County for mining and processing.

The mineral exploration SUP (t#2011-016) was unanimously approved by the Storey County Planning Commission on August 16, recommending approval by the Storey County Board of Commissioners on October 4. This SUP would authorize an expanded drilling program primarily in the Lucerne Resource Area and our broader American Flat properties. The disturbance allowance for this permit is synchronized with our existing state bond, subject to its modification, that provides, among other things,  for drilling and reclamation of drilling related disturbances.  Drilling related disturbances on private land in this area are currently limited to 10.66 acres before requiring reclamation.  These limits are bonded with the state.  Increases to these levels require state approval and, most likely, additional bonding.  Drilling related disturbances on public lands are regulated by the Federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and will be limited to 4.17 acres (that will be separately bonded with the BLM) under a federal drilling Notice.  The Notice procedure requires the  BLM to evaluate the specific drill locations to ensure that any impacts to these land are minimized and corrected through post drilling reclamation activities.

An existing SUP, (#2000-222) regulates the mining we plan on initiating when we receive our Air Quality Control Permit from the State of Nevada. Within the boundary of this existing SUP 2000-222, our disturbance is not limited to 10.66 acres, as we are permitted for more than just drilling but for mining, processing and related activities.  These activities are also bonded by the State of Nevada and, in total, represent over 133 acres of planned, mining related activities.  The following map delineates the various existing and proposed permitted project boundaries.

StoreyCounty_SUP_Map-4of4_blog_2011.9.26

Again, the new drilling SUP #2011-016 does not have any authority over our mining and processing operations.  The SUP will permit efficient, safe and expanded drilling activities, primarily in the Lucerne Resource Area, we have discovered significant mineralization (that is, gold and silver) to the north, east and northeast of our Starter Mine. We hope this development will identify much larger resources in this area that would support our plans for growth.

Kindest regards,

Corrado De Gasperis
President and CEO

 

 
CEO Blog - September 14, 2011
Wednesday, September 14 2011 11:44
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Question:  I am interested in your progress in mining & production. I would like to know how many years it will take to produce 3,250,000 oz.?

Answer:  Thank you for your question regarding the production of 3.25 million Au/eq. ounces. Comstock Mining has identified two basic tenets in its strategic goal: "to deliver value by validating qualified resources (at least measured and indicated) and reserves of 3,250,000 gold equivalent ounces by 2013, and commencing commercial mining and processing operations in 2011, with annual production rates of 20,000 gold equivalent ounces."

The 3.25 million Au/eq. ounces is the exploration component of the goal. Our production goal of 20,000 Au/eq. ounces per year is for our starter mine located on the west side of the Lucerne Resource Area that we estimate has about four years of life. Future expansion of both the starter mine and a potential second mine in our Dayton Resource Area should allow for our annual production numbers to increase, but it is premature to know or estimate how that would translate into a mine plan.

We are building a company based on safe, responsible mining that will advance the greater social and economic potential of the Comstock through long-term development, preservation and restoration.  We will build these mine plans carefully and thoughtfully, mining in ways sensitive to the unique qualities of the Comstock Historic District.  All in all, we anticipate future mine plans that will be part of the Comstock for many decades to come.

Kindest regards,

Corrado De Gasperis
President and CEO

 
CEO Blog - August 31, 2011
Wednesday, August 31 2011 18:01
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Production Update Blog

Question: We understand from your Form 10-Q filings that the Goodfellow Corporation of Boulder City Nevada, is assembling, delivering and installing a new, two-stage crushing facility, and that Scotia International Inc. of Nevada is refurbishing and upgrading your Merrill-Crowe processing plant and refinery.

Can you please provide a progress report towards the above activities?

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Answer:  Regarding the Crushing facility, construction by the Goodfellow Corporation remains on schedule.  Last Thursday, August 25, 2011, Mark Goodfellow was on site, inspecting the site for delivery of most of the equipment and to review plans for the installation of the crusher. Mark also updated us on the schedule, including that the fabrication of the jaw crusher will be complete this week and it will be delivered to Goodfellows for installation into the skid-mounted framework.  The cone crusher, surge bin, and the vibrating screen will also be completed this week and delivered to the mine site next week.  Work continues on refurbishing our existing wobbler feeder and conveyors. The rebuild of the used wobbler feeder is about 25% complete.

Today, we received our KPI-JCI 36” x 150” Super Stacker Conveyor Belt System.

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CMI_SuperStacker-USA

 The stacker is extendable from 75 to 150 feet and includes1000tph upgrade options.

The Merrill Crowe facility, construction and refurbishment by Scotia also remains on schedule. To date, Scotia has completed the following: construction design for the Deaeration Tower (and commenced fabrication), Zinc, Pre-coat and Body-feed Skids; scheduled fabrication for the Zinc and Body-feed Skids; disassembled and sandblasted all of the filter presses and clarifiers; primed and painted the filter presses and requested quotes for the new pumps and agitators.

The Company is also soliciting bids for the construction associated with the Merrill Crowe building and foundation expansions.

These items continue on schedule and will be completed prior to the issuance of a few remaining permits, primarily the Air Quality Permits issued by the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection (NDEP).

We previously announced that on July 27, 2011, the Company received its Mercury Operating Permit #AP1041-2690, issued under a new air quality program that is administrated by the NDEP’s Bureau of Air Quality. This permit requires all gold mining companies that use thermal processes for gold recovery to monitor and manage, through engineering controls, any mercury fumes or liquid metal that is derived from the precious metal ore as a by-product.  This air permit ensures employee and public safety during the final stages of precious metals recovery.  This permit is now effective and has successfully passed through the appeal period.

The Company has also applied for an Air Quality Permit, primarily associated with the crushing facilities mentioned above.  This permit, which is also issued by NDEP, is required before any mining and processing can recommence and will require a public notice period identical to our recently issued Mercury Operating to Construct Permit, making issuance most likely in late October.

Production activities cannot commence until we have received this permit.

Over the past eight months, the Company has hired a number of experienced mining professionals. These key additions to our staff brought demonstrated skills and experience, including safety, environmental, operations management, mine engineering and metallurgical experience, which will be invaluable as we prepare for pre-production and mining production.

Between the increasing of staff and the purchasing of equipment, we continue on target toward our production goals.

 

Kindest regards,

Corrado De Gasperis
President and CEO

 
CEO Blog - August 30, 2011
Tuesday, August 30 2011 16:08
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Question: You disclosed that you have received your newly required Mercury Permit on July 27, but that you were waiting for it to clear appeal.  Has this occurred?

Answer: Yes, we announced that we had received the Mercury Permit from the State of Nevada Division of Environmental Protection (NDEP) on July 27, 2011.  On August 22, 2011, we received notification by the State Environmental Commission of Nevada that the appeal had been withdrawn and, accordingly, we have successfully cleared the final appeal process period without incident.  The issuance of our Mercury Permit represents another important step in our progress toward gold and silver production.”

This permit is regulated under the Nevada Mercury Control Program and is intended to ensure the safe and proper collection of mercury at a precious metal processing facility. Mercury is a naturally occurring metal found in very low concentrations in the mineralized rocks of the Comstock Lode. When gold and silver ore is processed, a portion of the mercury that is also present is simultaneously extracted from the ore. The permit demonstrates NDEP’s assessment that the proper equipment and procedures are in place to safely separate this mercury (through use of a Mercury Retort). The natural concentration of mercury is very low on the Comstock, and the Company anticipates very small quantities will be collected.

Just as a reminder, we have previously communicated that Comstock Mining does not use mercury at any time in the processing of gold and silver. The mineral process equipment involved is routine and required for all Merrill-Crowe type processing facilities operating worldwide. The mercury vapors are collected in the furnace retort, which is a closed system with engineering controls and monitoring equipment.  The mercury vapor is then condensed into the liquid state. All the equipment is located in the processing facility at the Company’s American Flat location.

In contrast, historic mining on the Comstock did use mercury to process ore. Prior to 1906, mercury was used in the amalgamating process to attach to and separate the gold and silver from the ore. The miners at that time did not know the dangers of doing this and used about one pound of mercury per ton of ore. At the turn of the 20th century the U.S. Bureau of Mines, in conjunction with the newly established MacKay School of Mines at University of Nevada, developed a cyanide vat leach process to replace the mercury process in mining. Interestingly, the first mill to use this system in Nevada was the Donovan Mill located in Silver City, and the technology was almost immediately implemented on the Comstock because of its superior efficiencies.

This historic use of mercury on the Comstock is well documented from the original Carson River Superfund Site Investigation in the 1990s. NDEP, supported by the U.S. EPA, continues monitoring these sites and is currently preparing an updated archaeological study to increase its understanding of the historic mill sites in the area. The Company does not see any conflict between NDEP’s efforts and its exploration and mining plans. In fact, the Company is working with NDEP officials to establish protocols for safe and intentional mitigation of some of the historic mercury sites where this can be done in conjunction with normal mining and drilling operations.  We are committed to sampling relevant areas of disturbance with the intention of eliminating or mitigating any concerns over pre-existing mercury sites.

Our cooperation with NDEP represents an unprecedented effort for effectively defining the existence of any residual mercury in the Comstock in conjunction with our planned drilling and mining activities. This is a real opportunity to discover more knowledge about the precise location of past mills and residual mercury levels, providing real benefit to the entire Comstock community.

Kindest regards,

Corrado De Gasperis
President and CEO

 
CEO Blog - June 20, 2011
Monday, June 20 2011 12:38
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Question: How many people do you anticipate hiring before production starts later this year?

Answer:  We have planned staffing for our mining operations of up to 50 full time mining employees.  We just recently announced the appointment of Randy Harris, as the company’s Director of Safety, representing our twelfth full time employee hired  this year, bringing us to a current total of 30 mining professionals.  We are actively mapping out our production processes and finalizing staffing requirements in areas such as mining, crushing, refining and all the related metallurgical processes. We also had tremendous success in hiring both the best available candidates and finding a significant majority of those people locally.  Substantially all of our employees live on the Comstock or in Dayton, Mound House or Carson City.

Randy is a returning Comstock resident.  He was raised in Silver City and initially worked for the Silver City Fire Department and the Storey County Sheriff’s Department before moving into the mining industry, where he developed impressive qualifications in the fields of occupational health, safety and security. He has worked with organizations like Round Mountain Gold Corp. in Round Mountain, NV, Golden Predator Mines in Winnemucca and Imlay, NV and was most recently with the Turquoise Ridge Joint Venture between Barrick Gold and Newmont Mining Corporation. Randy also spent five years with the State of Nevada Mine Safety and Training Section as a Safety Specialist.

We could not be happier attracting one of the best, most experienced safety professionals in the industry back to the Comstock.  Safety and social responsibility are integrated into everything we do and Randy will lead that continued philosophy as we move into production later this year.

Randy has been involved with volunteer firefighting, search and rescue, EMT and ambulance services with Storey County, Silver City and Round Mountain. His safety training includes certification by the International Society of Mine Safety Professionals, OSH Standards 1910 Level I & II, and International Loss Control. Important to Comstock Mining’s near-term and longer-term plans, he has strong safety expertise in both surface and underground mining.

We have also increased the Gold Hill Hotel team by six people since our May 2011 acquisition, bringing that total to 21 hospitality professionals and related staff. Combined, this makes us one of the largest private employers on the Comstock with a local team that now exceeds 50 employees.

Kindest regards,

Corrado De Gasperis
President and CEO

 
CEO Blog - May 24, 2011
Tuesday, May 24 2011 03:49
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Today we announced results from the remaining assays from Phase I drilling at the East-Side target in the Lucerne Resource Area. The pattern of significant mineralization identified in the first twelve holes continued in all fifteen new holes, including the highest gold assay yet reported by Comstock Mining: 3.562 oz/ton gold (121.99 g/t) and 5.200 oz/ton silver (178.08 g/t) measured over a five foot section, found within a 30 foot intercept averaging 1.257 oz/ton gold (43.05 g/t) and 2.114 oz/ton silver (72.40 g/t), in hole E11-24. The East-Side Phase I drilling campaign consisted of 27 reverse circulation (RC) holes totaling 19,774 feet (6,027 m) of drilling.

Historically, the East-Side target was consolidated by the Donovan family, including the Succor and Silver Hills shafts. The family leased some of the claims on the East-Side that were worked up until World War II and produced an estimated $1 million worth of ore (non-inflation adjusted dollars) processed at the Donovan Mill in Silver City. The Donovan Mill operated until 1967.

“Mike Donovan said the Succor and Silver Hills shaft area was always of great interest to him,” commented Larry Martin, the Company’s Chief Geologist. “It was a special area to him; one he believed had never truly been explored. I am sure he would see these results as the first real step in achieving the potential of these claims.”

Highlights from the current assay results include:

  • Significant mineralization (gold grade greater than 0.010 ounces per ton (0.34 g/t) or silver grades greater than 0.100 ounces per ton (3.42 g/t)), and a length of at least ten feet (3.05 m)) occurred in all of the holes. Hole E11-24 is a highlight because of the assay reporting 3.562 oz/ton gold (121.99 g/t), but the context of that five-foot assay is equally noteworthy. It is found in a 100 foot (30.48 m) intercept averaging 0.309 oz/ton gold (10.58 g/t) and 0.911 oz/ton silver (31.20 g/t). Immediately surrounding it is a 30 foot (9.14 m) intercept averaging 1.257 oz/ton gold (43.05 g/t). The void that is mentioned in the table indicates a narrow stope cutting through this section, mined by the old-timers.

  • Hole E11-24 also includes a second intercept of 145 feet (44.20 m) averaging 0.069 oz/ton gold (2.36 g/t) and 0.549 oz/ton silver (18.80 g/t).

  • Hole E11-19 has an intercept of 130 feet (39.62 m) averaging 0.047 oz/ton gold (1.61 g/t) and 0.418 oz/ton silver (14.32 g/t) at the bottom of the hole.  The true thickness of this mineralized zone remains unknown until a deeper hole can be drilled.  Looking over all the newly reported holes, there are 11 intercepts of silver greater than 1.00 oz/ton (34.25 g/t).

The East-Side target continues to exceed expectations with every hole demonstrating strong mineralization and indicating an expanding resource.  In addition to reporting the highest gold assay discovered to date on the property, the results also identify consistently high levels of silver throughout the area.  These results validate our initial assumptions that the East-Side target is ideal for a subsequent expansion of the starter mine.

Our on-going drilling will refine the Company’s understanding of the mineralization envelope and facilitate detailed planning of this expansion.”

 

East-Side_Phase_I_-_blog

 

The drilling-to-date has not yet identified an eastern boundary for the mineralized zone. Historically, the East-Side target was consolidated by a Donovan family, including the Succor and Silver Hills shafts. The family leased some of the claims on the East-Side that were worked up until World War II and produced an estimated $1 million worth of ore (non-inflation adjusted dollars) processed at the Donovan Mill in Silver City. The Donovan Mill operated until 1967.

When combined with the seven holes drilled in 2010, results from the East-Side target are beginning to confirm the potential of these claims identified in the August 2010 Behre Dolbear technical report and by the previous owner of the patented claims, the late Michael Donovan.

Continued Drill Program

Drilling programs remain in full gear with four rigs in position in two resource areas. At the Dayton, a core rig just completed drilling a twinned hole for metallurgical tests and recently moved to the Justice patent. RC rigs are currently drilling at the Dayton and on the Justice claim in the Lucerne Resource Area, and another has just begun Phase II drilling on the East-Side target. Drilling priorities continue to be the completion of programs required for the starter pit’s final mine plan, but additional drilling programs will continue to collect data for inclusion in the Company’s next technical report.

To see the intercept table or to read more on this topic, see the Press Release.

Kindest regards,

Corrado De Gasperis
President and CEO

 
CEO Blog - May 15, 2011
Sunday, May 15 2011 13:59
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Question: What types of educational activities, if any, is the company planning?

Answer: Educational activities are an excellent way for our company to interact with the community, and we are always willing and excited to share our expertise. Recently, a group of adult students from Folsom Lake College visited on a Sunday afternoon and were treated to a tour of the mine by our Chief Geologist Larry Martin. Participants came from various fields of study like Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics, and the Geosciences, but all enjoyed Larry’s presentation about the underlying structure of the Comstock. George A. Wheeldon, Professor of Geology, brought the students up to experience the rich heritage of the Comstock Lode and then explore first hand, the unique geology that formed here 15 million years ago. Professor Wheeldon has scheduled field excursions to the Comstock with prior classes and told us it was the highlight of the year.

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Folsom Lake College Field Trip on the Comstock, May 2011

Later this month, our team has scheduled an educational field trip for seniors from Virginia City High School. The focus of this visit will again be the geology of the Comstock Lode. This year’s field trip resulted from discussions with Dr. Robert Slaby, Superintendent of Schools, and Principal Patrick Beckwith. We anticipate creating a formal educational program that will integrate with the local school district for students in all grade levels. Topics will focus on science and math, but will additionally supplement existing history programs. A similar program will be offered to Lyon County and other local school districts.

Our educational outreach will extend beyond just schools. The recent acquisition of the Gold Hill Hotel creates a great opportunity to expand the community outreach that has already taken place at the property place for years. The historic lecture series will continue, and we are considering new ways the Hotel might serve as a community center for educational programs involving not only history and mining, but such varied social issues as job creation and vocational training, wildlife care and management, and the arts.

You can expect future updates as our new programs and ideas are created, refined and implemented. As one Folsom Lake College student recently put it after viewing how our team’s geologic expertise illuminated drilling targets with such a high degree of success: “Science works!” This shows how the rewards for education are in the creation of understanding, and understanding fuels the creation of a community working together for a sustainable and mutually prosperous future.

 

 

Kindest regards,

Corrado De Gasperis
President and CEO

 
CEO Blog - May 13, 2011
Friday, May 13 2011 20:51
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Question: Comstock Mining has applied for a Mercury Permit. What is this and why is it required?

Answer: We expect our Mercury Permit from the State of Nevada Division of Environmental Protection (NDEP) very soon. This permit is regulated under the Nevada Mercury Control Program and is intended to ensure the safe and proper collection of mercury at a precious metal processing facility. Mercury is a naturally occurring metal found in very low concentrations in the indigenous ground of the Comstock Lode. When gold and silver ore is processed, a portion of the mercury that is also present is simultaneously extracted from the ore. The permit certifies that the proper equipment and procedures are in place to safely separate this mercury (through use of a Mercury Retort) and safely collect it for eventual shipment to an industry that uses mercury, such as the new low energy light bulb manufactures. The natural concentration of mercury is so low on the Comstock we estimate our processing could operate for a year and not even collect enough mercury to fill a 78 pound commercial flask. In other words, the amount of mercury commonly found in fluorescent light bulbs presents a much higher concentration. That said, we completely understand the need to operate safely and in complete compliance with all environmental concerns.

To be clear: Comstock Mining does not use mercury at any time in the processing of gold and silver. The equipment involved is routine and required for all Merrill-Crowe type processing facilities operating in Nevada. The retort equipment collects mercury vapor in a closed system, separates the metal, and then collects it. All the equipment is located in the processing facility at our American Flats location.

I think some confusion exists because the Comstock is an historic mining district. Prior to 1906, mercury was used in the amalgamating process to attach to and separate the gold and silver from the ore. To do this, mercury was utilized as a collection agent in the milling process as an amalgam and a significant portion of that mercury was unfortunately released into the environment. The miners at that time did not know the dangers of doing this. In 1906, the U.S. Bureau of Mines, in conjunction with the newly established MacKay School of Mines at University of Nevada, developed a cyanide vat leach process that effectively marked the end of mercury’s use in mining. Interestingly, the first mill to use this system in Nevada was the Donovan Mill located in Silver City, and the technology was almost immediately implemented on the Comstock because of its superior efficiencies.

The use of mercury on the historic Comstock is well documented from the original Carson River Superfund Site Investigation in the 1990s. Nevada’s Division of Environmental Protection (NDEP), supported by the U.S. EPA, continues monitoring these sites and is currently preparing an updated Archaeological Study to increase their understanding of the area. We do not see any conflict between NDEP’s efforts and our mining plans.  In fact, we are always ready, willing, and able to support NDEP’s efforts in these types of environmentally friendly endeavors.

Kindest regards,

Corrado De Gasperis
President and CEO

 

 
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