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The new rush: Commercial gold mining returns to California

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While mining for gold has become a popular hobby among Californians, commercial production of the precious metal is set to start anew in Amador County.

As reported by the Sacramento Bee, Sutter Gold Mining Co. is launching the Lincoln Mining Project near Sutter Creek with a Friday ceremony. California might have a long way to go to contend with the much more robust gold industry in neighboring Nevada (or other gold producing states like Alaska, Colorado and Utah), local officials still see it as a big step, the first commercial mine in the Mother Lode area in 50 years.

"It is a new mine … One mine is not going to catch us up to Nevada … but it's actually a working gold mine that has gone through the permitting process for quite some time. So that's significant," said John Clinkenbeard, head of the Mineral Resources Program for the California Geological Survey to the Bee.

Gold mining is expensive, time-consuming work. While Sutter estimates they’re sitting on anywhere between 223,000 to 680,000 ounces of gold at the Lincoln site (Worth in range of $357 million to over $1 billion), it will be at least five years before the first phase of the project is even completed. Just getting the approval to mine the area has taken approximately three decades, going back to the 1980s.

"We have to have the ability to mine at the cost we believe we can mine,” said Leanne Baker, president and CEO of Sutter Gold Mining Inc. “We have a high degree of confidence on that point. And the gold price has to remain in our favor over that period of time. I think we have many good years left in the gold bull market."