Nestled in the foot hills of the towering Sierra, towns like Sutter Creek, Amador City and Angels Camp evoke a romantic past, with the only gold mining here now just a few people with pans. But for the first time since the 1950’s, California’s Mother Lode will have more than just a tourist draw, as an operating underground gold mine is set to open.

As prices of gold soar around the world, and even here on the left coast, mining begins to move forward. Sutter Gold Mine says it will be fully operational within 6 months and should pour its first gold bar within a year. Conservative estimates have the company believing it will pull at least 1,800 ounces of gold out of the ground each month, and that it is more than cost effective to reopen this mine, which has in parts been operational since before California was accepted into the Union.

While Sutter Gold successfully waded through the environmental regulation that exists in California these days, only one other mine in the region may also get the chance to open in the near future, and that is about 60 miles to the north in the Grass Valley area. There are at least 18 agencies that need to be satisfied before that can happen and that doesn’t take into account city and county regulations/protections before a mine can begin the process of opening. That, and low gold prices in years past, have kept underground mining here nonexistent until now.

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