Conglomerate Mesa and K2 Gold’s Lingering Exploration Interest
Since the approval of the environmental assessment that allows for helicopter access exploratory drilling at Conglomerate Mesa, Friends of the Inyo and the environmental community have closely monitored mining company’s interest in pursuing this project. In June 2019, Friends of the Inyo learned that a company called K2 Gold met with Inyo County and Conglomerate Mesa claimholders, Noel Cousins and Steven Van Ert to discuss possible exploration. In the months after this meeting, we did not receive any additional intel about K2 Gold and their exploration interests.
Things at the Mesa remained quiet throughout the rest of 2019. Friends of the Inyo did not see any mining-related activities during our Fall trips and Ridgecrest BLM did not notify us of additional mining interests. However, in February 2020, we located a corporate presentation by K2 Gold discussing their plans for Conglomerate Mesa. The presentation shows us that the mining threat is still real and K2 Gold is at the front of it. You can read the full presentation here.
In the presentation K2 Gold projects the following timeline for exploration at Conglomerate Mesa:
- December 2019 – February 2020 – Trenching, rock sampling, target definition – C$450,000
- 2020 – Submit Application to BLM for road access drill permit in Newmont and BHP area – ~ 50-60 holes program (RC & DD) to outline an indicated resource – C$400,000 (Newmont and BHP are old exploration sites from the 80s and 90s)
- 2021 – Land access drill campaign – C$3M
Yes, you read that correctly. Based on this timeline, K2 Gold is likely to submit a new 50-60 drill hole exploration plan to BLM in 2020. If they choose to do this, Ridgecrest BLM will be required to conduct a new Environmental Assessment and the public planning process will start over. If a new planning process starts, it is possible a decision will be determined that allows for road access exploration, among a number of other things. There will be an opportunity for public comment and Friends of the Inyo will send out an Action Alert if/when the time comes.
As seen in the timeline, K2 Gold claims to have begun trenching and rock sampling at Conglomerate Mesa. We have not received any cross-verification of these activities. FOI is conducted a self-scouting trip at the end of February and did not notice any trenching but did notice fresh flagging near or within very small holes. Could this be ground sampling? If so, did K2 do this and have they started leasing the claims? We are currently working to find out. See picture below.
The people of Inyo County and California desert enthusiasts are ready to fight for Conglomerate Mesa. K2 Gold, or any company that shows interest in exploration and mining at the Mesa will deal with immense pushback as we fight to permanently protect this beloved piece of desert. Right now, there are two main ways to take action:
- Help Us Monitor! – If you have a trip planned in the California Desert, make a day excursion to Conglomerate Mesa. Email our Desert Lands Organizer, Bryan Hatchell, if you plan to go. He will provide you with the information needed. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- SIGN THE PETITION – Friends of the Inyo is continuing to build the support book for the permanent protection of Conglomerate Mesa. We need your signature! Stop by the office or coordinate with Bryan to sign. We need as many Inyo County signatures as possible and in-person signatures are best.