Gold and silver mining may return to Pearce mine which has been dormant since 1942.

Commonwealth Silver and Gold Corp., of Tucson, has taken an option to purchase the Commonwealth mine in Pearce, Ariz., and several neighboring mineral properties.

The company is a private Arizona corporation whose principal geologist, Hall Stewart, has been a Tucson resident for 40 years.

Commonwealth Silver currently controls the mineral rights to more than 2,300 acres including the Pearce Hill, Little Jessie Hills, Sixmile Hill and Township Butte areas, said Stewart, who is also vice president of exploration with the company.

He said the land is a combination of U.S. Patented Mining Claims and non-patented Bureau of Land Management (federal) land.

Stewart said Commonwealth Silver will use the option period to continue exploration on the properties to determine whether the gold and silver known to remain in the area can be profitably mined.

"Commonwealth Silver intends to drill 14 exploration drill holes in March and complete a mineral resource estimate for the property before moving on to a more extensive drill program and feasibility study," Stewart said.

Permits for the explorative drilling were obtained from Arizona Department of Water Resources.

"There is a more extensive permitting process for mining," he said. "Now we are just drilling holes in the ground."

Stewart explained that you must drill in different places to determine what is in the subsurface, and then use computer three-dimensional models to determine where the veins exist.

About 150 holes were drilled in the 1980s and '90s, he said, as the project was a mine from 1894 to 1942, but mining has not occurred there since 1942.

"It is important that people in the community be aware of what we are doing and if there are concerns, we'd like to be aware so we can address them. You can find us at the project in Pearce," he said. "We are a one-project company and we don't have a lot of people at this time."

"We are not well-funded, as this is explorative. We are funded partially by Canadians, as they are more prone to take risks," Stewart said. "You can look us up through the Arizona Corporation Commission."

"Reactivation of the project both in the exploration phase and in the mining phase, if Commonwealth Silver decides to put the property into production, will provide a much needed source of jobs for Cochise County," Stewart said.

He said there are a limited number of jobs available during this phase, but he will hire local residents from Sunsites first as clean-up crews and bulldozer support as soon as those jobs are available.

Stewart said exploration will continue through 2011, and there will be two more years of engineering studies, with mine production beginning at the earliest in 2014.

"If all is successful, about three years off, we will be a real significant source of employment, hiring about 75 to 100 people," Stewart said.

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