Scotgold Resources (LON: SGZ), the company aiming to open Scotland’s first commercial gold and silver mine in Cononish, is seeking its next big discovery by stepping up sediment and soil sampling programs across the Grampian project, in the Scottish Highlands.
“Although our prime focus continues to be the development of the Cononish mine, our exploration activities continue to build an exciting portfolio of anomalies which will form the basis for potential future drilling programs in the years to come,” chief executive Richard Gray said in a statement.
The company, which is close to declaring commercial production at Cononish, has been working to reopen the abandoned gold mine near Tyndrum for almost 13 years. The hope, Gray told FT.com, is that the project proves the viability of precious metal extraction in Scotland.
“It sounds a bit presumptuous and grandiose, but we do see this as being the start of a gold mining industry in Scotland,” Gray told FT.com. “I think there will be a sort of mini gold rush, potentially, in the years to come.”
While gold panning has a long history in Scotland, investor worries and opposition from environmentalists have botched attempts to take the activity to an industrial level.
Scotland has survived green activists’ disapproval, mainly focused on the scale of the tailing that will be left behind, scoring a major win in early 2018. At the time, it received initial approval for Cononish, about 80 km (50 miles) north of Glasgow.
The asset produced its first gold in August 2016, following the launch of an ore processing trial. After the local authorities gave the project their blessing, the company began building a large-scale operation.
Now Scotgold is about to start producing at its underground mine with an initial output capacity of 23,500 ounces of gold annually, for up to 17 years.
The company expects to process around 3,000 tonnes of ore per month in the first phase, which it says will double in phase two.
As many as 52 jobs could be created during production, and the firm has offered nearly £500,000 (about $612K) in payments to support the local community of Tyndrum.
The small village is currently a local tourist destination, known mostly for being at a junction of major transport routes.