Dawson Gold Mine proposal in Fremont County has some concerned citizens

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FREMONT COUNTY, Colo. — Mining for gold could be coming back to Fremont County soon.

On June 30, 2021, Zephyr Minerals submitted a hard rock mining permit application to the state Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety (DRMS).

Some people who live nearby Dawson Mine aren’t so happy about it. The approximate location of the proposed mine is in the Temple Canyon Area, 4 miles southwest of downtown Cañon City, 1.5 miles from the city limits, and 1.3 miles from Grape Creek.

As drivers get closer to Cañon City, they can see signs that read “Protect our property values, No Dawson Gold Mine, more precious than gold.”

“This mine will be opened for 5 years is what they are estimating and then whatever few jobs they come in go away, whatever damage they do to the side of that beautiful mountain is going to be there forever,” Leader of the Arkansas Valley Conservation Coalition Will Gromowski said.

Zephyr Minerals is a publicly-traded Canadian company located in Nova Scotia. The company is hoping to mine 25,000-30,000 ounces of gold a year with a revenue of 50-60 million dollars each year.

The Executive Chairman Will Felderhof said the project is a lot smaller than the mine in Teller County. The mine will not be an open pitting, since it is not economically feasible. The top of the deposit is 350 feet down from the surface before miners can get to it. It’s an operation Felderhof said you wouldn’t be able to see from Cañon City. He said if there is dust, they’ll mitigate the dust. They still have to build the mine which would cost the company $30 million.

The Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety would never ever approve an operation that wouldn’t be supported by good science to be an environmentally responsible operation,” Felderhof explained. “In my view, this is a very environmentally benign project. There are no nasty elements. We are going to be underground so it is a very nice little setup that we are proposing here.”

Those who live near the mine aren’t so confident. They worry about the impact it would have on the land in Fremont County.

“My biggest fear is water, depletion of water,” Cindy Smith said. “We are in a time where there is climate change and it’s getting warmer. My second fear is chemical pollution. There are going to be explosions, chemicals up there. It is 1,000 feet above Grape Creek and it feeds directly into the Arkansas River. I’m worried about the wildlife there and the water for people.”

“The only impact at the end of the day will be changing the concourse of the property slightly,” Felderhof said. “As we stack up some of the material, it is all sand. There is no impact to the river.”

Zypher Minerals owns 320 acres and they say they’ll be impacting 82 acres. There is a big ridge that hides the mine, however, narrow windy roads lead up to the mine.

“A lot of cyclists use both of these roads and the traffic and the safety is a concern,” Smith said.

The potential of wildfires is also on the top of minds for those who live in the Dawson Ranch.

“We are roughly 6,000 feet above elevation, we don’t get much rain so it is incredibly dry,” Gromowski said.

Zephyr Minerals said they are already getting applications for the work on Dawson Mine.

“In the mining industry, these are 90 high-paying jobs, and it isn’t seasonal so we think it will be an economic boost for Cañon City and Fremont County,” Felderhof added.

The mining permit could be blocked at the state or county level. The state has until September 1, 2021, to approve or deny the permit then a permit will be looked at by county commissioners. The Arkansas Valley Conservation Coalition encourages people to educate themselves on this matter, and get involved.

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