Three miners hit pay dirt at the Sixteen to One Mine in Alleghany earlier this month when they struck a rich pocket of gold, and now they're in line to split at least $120,000.
Michael Miller, president and director of the mine, said the gold was found in a section of the 1,000-acre mine they first looked at two years ago and finally started exploring 7-8 months ago.
On July 15, the work paid off when one of the miner's drills hit "corn flakes," small pieces of gold that signal more is in the area, and then a 60-pound rock with an estimated 300 ounces of gold.
"His drill actually stopped because he'd hit a large amount of gold. All of us knew Thursday night that Friday was going to be a big day."
More than 500 ounces of gold were extracted from the pocket July 16, and Miller believes they might recover as much as 1,000 ounces. Miller estimated the value of the gold could go as high as $700,000 because the high quality makes it more valuable to jewelers.
The gold was discovered by Ian Haley of Camptonville, Joe Witterman of Alleghany, and Miller's son, Reid Miller of Penn Valley. They work as independent contractors at the mine and get a share of the gold they discover, which they can take in either gold or cash.
Miller said the mine "had a million-dollar day and a $2 million week" in the '90s, but hasn't had a major discovery in several years. "The timing couldn't have been better," he said.
The 411 on the 16:1
The Sixteen to One Mine began operations in Alleghany in 1896 and incorporated in 1911. The name comes from the ratio of gold to silver established by Portugal in 1688 to set a relative value for the two precious metals.
The company is public, though the stock is not traded on any exchange. The stock trades at less than $1 a share.
The mine reported a profit of $81,917 on revenue of $245,178 for the quarter ended March 31. In the year-earlier period, the mine lost $13,297 on revenue of $122,014.