Commissioners skeptical of mining lease

Seige Schatza
IVN copy editor

Mineral Research, Inc. presented before the Josephine County Board of Commissioners Wednesday, Sept. 27 to make their case for the board signing off on their five-year lease of a 76-acre Wolf Creek property known as St. Peter Mine.
The meeting was held at Anne G. Basker Auditorium in Grants Pass.
JoCo Forestry Director Dave Streeter recounted that in May 2020, AMR was awarded a three-year mining exploration permit to assess whether it would be prudent to invest more resources into mining the land.
When the permit expired in May, AMR began the process of applying for the full lease, which involved reviews by the Mining Advisory Committee as well as the mining administrator and Sesby Consulting.
AMR Chief Financial Officer Jay Meredith presented on his company’s behalf, and said their mining endeavor “is really important to the county.”
Meredith believes that the minerals found on the St. Peter Mine property can generate royalty revenues to fund local law enforcement.
“That is the heart of why we applied for this permit years ago and why we’re here in front of you today,” remarked Meredith. “We desire to help support Josephine County law enforcement.”
The CFO explained that there are multiple county-owned properties that have the potential to generate mineral revenues, but AMR chose the St. Peter Mine first because of a successful exploration effort 30 years ago that proved a presence of valuable minerals.
“There are actually core-drilled proven reserves on this property, proven mineral reserves, which is in mining terms one of the highest levels of confidence you can have in terms of whether there is a mineral reserve on the property,” Meredith explained. “The county should never sell this property prior to developing the mineral resources on this property because that’s the way you’re going to see the highest value and the most potential royalty revenues to county law enforcement. If you sell the property before you fully explore the property, I think you’re leaving a lot on the table.”
AMR estimates they would need to invest $1.2 million to fully develop the property, which Meredith said is low compared to what larger mining organizations would invest. In addition, AMR, as a smaller mining company, would use less destructive methods that would yield less intrusive environmental impacts and prioritize “quality over quantity.”
“Most reasonable business people are going to say you need a long-term property commitment before you can justify spending that kind of money on a property,” said Meredith. “So today we estimate we have spent about $100,000 in time and money in developing this property and what we found on this property; we’ve walked every portion of the property. We’ve done a lot of surface exploration and what we found on the property, especially in the center and the western end of the property is very, very encouraging to us. Over 50% of the samples that we’ve taken had some level of gold in it, which in exploration terms is a pretty incredible result.”
According to AMR’s calculations, the development of St. Peter Mine would yield $260,000 per year in revenue to JoCo law enforcement. “Keep in mind,” Meredith added, “that this is just one of several properties in the county’s portfolio that has significant mineral potential. So you put a number of these properties together, a few successful projects, and you’re looking at potentially significant revenues to county law enforcement.”
All three commissioners had less-than-stellar appraisals of AMR’s proposal. Baertschiger spoke first, and cited findings from Sesby Consulting that poured cold water over Meredith’s projections.
Sesby found that the quarterly reports AMR was mandated to submit to the county during their exploration seemed to be “duplicates” that did not demonstrate any progress, which Baertschiger called “disturbing.”
The board chair read from Sesby’s findings, “In the absence of a complete assessment of the ore body as well as development of a mining plan of operations at this time, we believe the project’s longterm feasibility cannot be adequately evaluated as a mineral resource potential and has not been significantly examined for a prudent person to determine if the locality of minerals of the property can be extracted in a manner that would yield a reasonable financial return.”
Baertschiger went on to say that even if AMR’s royalty projections are accurate, there is no proof that they can legally be used to fund law enforcement.
Commissioner Dan DeYoung expressed his concern over AMR using their exploration permit to “rustle up investors.”
DeYoung also raised doubts over AMR’s ability to “move the earth” necessary to yield a return on their investment.
Commissioner John West was in full agreement with DeYoung, saying, “There’s not one of us going to live in our lifetime before you ever mine squat off that mountain.” He added, “Please don’t treat me as if I’m stupid… the county is not guaranteed anything here.”
Baertschiger thanked Meredith for his presentation and said the board would consider the information presented.