The CK Gold Project is on a fast track to complete state permitting and start mining land near Curt Gowdy State Park for what it believes is 1 million ounces of Wyoming gold.
Mining expert George Bee was semi-retired when he first visited a proposed gold and silver mining operation a few miles south of Happy Jack Road near Curt Gowdy State Park in southern Wyoming.
As a longtime mining engineer and executive who had worked for some of the world’s largest mining companies — Barrick Gold Corp., Rio Tinto Group, American Anglo plc, to name a few — Bee saw value in what he first saw in late 2020.
Beyond the antelope and black angus grazing the land as he was given a dog-and-pony tour by fifth-generation rancher Walter Ferguson, Bee was awestruck by the possibilities.
On the spot, Bee traded in his consultant hat for a president and CEO title with U.S. Gold and convinced the company’s board to not sell the land lease for $10 million to someone else.
Bee spotted something of value where others hadn’t.
1 Million Ounces Of Gold
The CK Gold Project, named after the century-old idled Copper King mine, is believed to contain more than 1 million ounces of gold deposits and 248 million pounds of copper. Not a monster mine, but a potentially profitable one nonetheless for U.S. Gold, which has never developed a mining property.
“When we dig that up and put it through the plant and turn it into concentrate, we’ll end up recovering 70% of the gold and 85% of the copper,” Bee said.
After covering for mining and processing expenses, and commodity sales, Bee estimates a tidy profit of about $300 million for U.S. Gold.
Ferguson, the rancher, plans to kick in about 360 acres of the 1,000-acre mining project to U.S. Gold. It’s the first time Ferguson has ever leased off a chunk of his family’s ranch for income.
Permits Coming Together
On Wednesday, Bee was attending a trade conference in Vancouver speaking with potential investors. He wants to raise up to $250 million for his mining venture that could eventually employ 250-300 full-time workers over a 10-year period.
“The investment community is a little bit of a tough sell because they want to see this project de-risked,” said Bee, explaining that a battered economy sometimes makes investors nervous when safer havens are available.
“So for us, getting our permits should be a big catalyst to increase our valuation and expectation,” he said.
The company is on the cusp of getting its laundry list of permits in order with the state, and perhaps give some pop to the sluggish stock price of the thinly traded public company with a $34 million market cap.
Last summer, the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality approved U.S. Gold’s industrial land siting permit.
Other permits are expected in coming months to deal with dust and emissions from equipment, and water discharge to handle sediment running into creeks and tributaries.
The last major permitting hurdle is a mine operation and closure permit that guarantees how U.S. Gold plans to return the grassland to how it looked prior to an open pit mining operation.
“This is a simple truck and shovel mining operation for us,” Bee said. “The process is clean. We don’t use nasty chemicals and there is no stack and pollution.”
Bee said construction of roads, infrastructure and facilities to process the gold and copper could begin by early 2025 after the final permit is approved by DEQ before the end of June. Mining could begin mid-2026.
Born in the United Kingdom and now living in Park City, Utah, the playground for outdoor enthusiasts, the CEO got buy-in on the CK Gold project from the ranchers, retirees and others who live in the area by delivering presentations on the mining operation at the nearby Bunkhouse Saloon & Steakhouse along Happy Jack Road.
“We have been very transparent in what we have proposed to do,” said Bee, who drank beer, ate “comfort food” and sipped his favorite clam chowder soup at the Bunkhouse on Fridays with neighbors to the CK Gold project.
“We presented them with our plan, and I think we’ve had a fair degree of acceptance of what we want to do,” Bee said.
“If we receive our permits, we’ll pay $30-$40 million in royalty revenue to the state, which is earmarked for K-12 education,” Bee said. “We’ll also pay $88 million in taxes, which will help the state at a time when the importance of coal is diminishing.”