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 - May 9, 2012
Wednesday, May 09 2012 19:48
Question: Can you provide a production update and give some details on the remaining construction that needs to be completed?
Answer: Thank you for your question.
Construction activity has been non-stop since February, and the Company expects to begin mining once the construction phase is completed. In anticipation of full production during the summer, the Company paid its first 2012, estimated Nevada Net Proceeds Tax in the amount of $154,492 to the state’s Department of Taxation. It is estimated that Storey County will receive about half this amount. This payment represents the first substantial Net Proceeds Tax paid to the county.
Since the last production update on March 28, 2012 we have completed and filled, from our existing water wells, the one million gallon process and fire suppression water reservoir. This reservoir will supply our commercial water and fire safety needs. The concrete pad for the addition to the Merrill Crowe processing facility has been poured and the old equipment has been removed from the prior facility. The new, expanded Merrill Crowe equipment is ready for shipment once the liner is completed. The heap leach pad expansion is nearly complete. The addition of cells four and five will bring the total capacity to four million tons. The fuel island for the mobile equipment is being constructed and the earthwork to prepare the crusher pad is in progress.
Comstock Mining Team, May 2012 (Photo by Jim Gill)
Over 10 full-time mining positions have been added in the past two weeks. These and other recent hires bring the total number of mining employees working in Storey County to over 50. Of the new employees, eight are heavy equipment and haul truck drivers. These experienced miners will operate Comstock’s 50-ton haul trucks (pictured in the group photo) between the Lucerne mine in lower Gold Hill and the process area located in American Flat. The route is completely contained on Comstock’s haul road and does not cross State Route 342.
An estimated 20 additional jobs will be filled primarily for processing operations, including crushing, blasting, Merrill Crowe, metallurgical processes, maintenance and security.
Remaining scheduled tasks include installation of the backup generator, completion of the soil sampling program, updating the septic system, pre-stripping of the Hartford pit, construction of the St. Louis ramp for ore haulage from the Hartford, and rehab of the pit roads and berms, receiving the new metallurgical lab and procuring fuel, lubricants and spare parts, stockpile 20,000 tons of ore, assemble the crushing facility, crush and stack ore on newly constructed pads four and five. The new cells will be utilized exclusively until they attain the height of cells one, two and three. Then all five cells will be placed into production. Once material is stacked, we will commence processing with an expectation of pouring Doré within sixty days of stacking the first material.
We are posting video updates on the March to Production section of our website: http://www.comstockmining.com/march-to-production
Corrado De Gasperis
President and CEO
CEO Blog - April 29, 2012
Saturday, April 28 2012 01:48
Question: It seems like the company is more actively engaging about the Comstock and the surrounding community. How is the Company integrating itself into the community?
Answer: Thank you for the acknowledgement and the question. We have worked very hard to work openly and cooperatively with the community to create sustainable, positive and diverse opportunities for the greater community, its residents and our employees.
We very much care about our rich mining and natural history, expanding tourism, and mining in ways sensitive to the unique qualities of the Comstock Historic District. Our objective is to continue to support and contribute to our great community.
The community has also begun approaching us in numerous ways for participation in real, sustainable, community led initiatives. For example, this summer, we are hosting an event at the Gold Hill Hotel that will celebrate the rediscovery of the long missing Jones Brothers’ tombstone that was recently returned to the Comstock!
More recently, just this past weekend we once again hosted Professor George Wheeldon and his geology class of 25 students from Folsom Lake College for a full geological tour of the Comstock District and, this year, ended their tour by visiting Comstock Mining’s processing facilities currently in the final stages of construction at American Flat.
Some of the students spent the weekend touring the Virginia City area, enjoying the many relics of the historic mining town and the modern shops. They were granted an excursion to review geologic features at the Company's current operation.
Sunday, April 22nd dawned clear and warm for the group tour with our V.P. of Exploration and Mine Development, Larry Martin, CPG. Also, assisting in the field was one of our Senior Geologists, Bill Mitchell. Bill actually began his training and professional career studying under Professor Wheeldon, in a class similar to this one.
The day began with Larry presenting a visual tour of the Company's interpretation of the Comstock's geology. He showed specific highlights of his and our geological team's paper that was presented at the 2010 GSN Symposium, “Re-thinking the Comstock: Volcanic Domes and Arcuate Structures.”
The historic workings of the Comstock and Silver City Lodes appear to mimic an interpreted, arcuate structure. Comstock Mining geologists have modeled exploration targets along these structures and have been successful in significantly increasing the Company's gold and silver resources.
Professor Wheeldon demonstrates to the students how to chip rock in a downward and outward strike, to reveal interesting features in a mineralized rock. Shown here, quartz crystals form inside an open vug within a brecciated and silicified rock. Black patches visible throughout the stone are ferro-manganese minerals.
Folsom Lake College Field Trip on the Comstock, April 2012
We enjoy hosting educational field trips and sharing the unique, rich natural histories and robust geology of the Comstock Lode.
Corrado De Gasperis
President and CEO
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.