The Taber Mine is consists of nine contiguous mining claims comprising an area of 640 acres. Two main auriferous channels of the ancestral Tertiary Yuba River cross the property each about 1000 feet rim to rim. The “front channel” is nearly worked out. The “back auriferous channel” with a length of about one mile across the property is virgin. It was discovered and penetrated by the main tunnel and later bore holes. This channel was reportedly the richest feeder to northern tributaries of the Tertiary Yuba River and corresponded to the same location as the channel where the adjoining properties made rich returns for years. The channels run east to west and are just downstream the Melones Fault, the main structure along which rich gold deposits of the Mother Lode are found. This proximity created a super-rich zone that produced 90 ounce nuggets and continuous heavy pay as proved by the adjoining mines. The virgin back channel was reached in 1904 in the main tunnel on the west boundary where a below track-level crosscut was started but stopped due to miners lien. Gravel worth $6yd ($20/oz) encountered but the gut not reached. Drill holes located the channel upstream in the middle of the property in 1931. A branch tunnel was started to intersect this point from within the main tunnel. This would have brought it below the channel and afford easy working and drainage for 4000 feet of the channel. The president and principle stockholder died suddenly and soon the work was stopped due to the inability of the company to assess shareholders or raise funds in the deeply depressed economy of 1932. All work by the present owner and lessees has been focused on the front channel accessed by a branch tunnel 1000 feet in off the main tunnel near some areas which had been worked in the 1870’s and 1920’s.
Ownership and BurdensThe mine and records were inherited by John Morton and his brother and sister in 1974 from Lulu Taber the daughter of the original owner, Horace Taber who bought the claim then known as the Wild Boar in 1856. John Morton is now the sole owner. There are no production royalties or any other encumbrances or obligations other than the Sierra County annual taxes and the Agency fees for the various permits, and the annual claim fees to be paid to Bureau of Land Management. There is no funding in place; the owner has been funding the work on and for upkeep of the property. There is no financial debt, outstanding taxes or permit fees currently due.
ReservesThe production of the Slate Creek basin has been estimated to have been excess of $70,000,000 at $20.67 per ounce, (3,386,550 ounces and over 4 trillion dollars today).
At the adjoining Thistle Shaft mine the channel was worked to over 300 feet wide and breasted 6 to 9 feet high. At the Bellevue mine 5 miles downstream the channel was breasted 6 foot high and over 300 feet wide. Their documented total production not including losses, averaged over 0.27 ounce/yard at these channel widths and breasting heights. The long running high paying Union Mine upstream was worked over 200 feet wide and breasted 6 to 9 feet high. No official records of production have been found although news accounts abound for 20 years of their large paying big nugget producing mine(many 90+ ounce solid gold nuggets). By using the well documented production records taken from the downstream mines a minimum average of the tenure of the gravel in Taber can be represented by a figure of 0.27 oz./yard. This figure does not take into account that the upstream Union mine had much higher values and larger gold or the losses occurring in washing. Thistle Company rewashed their tailings and recovered more than 20% additional gold above their initial washing thereby pushing their average gold content to 0.34 ounces/yard.
A conservative estimate of the inferred mineable reserves at the Taber Mine can be calculated using a minimum breast height of six feet, width of 250 feet and length of 5280 feet.
6 ft. x 250 ft. x 5280 ft. = 290,820 yards of inferred reserves.
290,820yds at 0.27 oz/yd. = 78,521 ounces of gold.
At $1200 an ounce 78,521 ounces is worth over $94,225,200
The returns will be appreciably more as the natural jewelry gold and nuggets sell for a premium over spot prices.
GeologyThe deep Buried Paleoplacer auriferous channels are locally covered by thick layer of volcanic tuff, locally called “pipe clay”, which is overlain by volcanic mud flows. The main tunnel passes through a volcanic dike that intruded the front channel. The bedrock is a “Calaveras schist” the strike being perpendicular to the channels. The placer gold is concentrated in the gravels at the bottom layer on the slate bedrock within these buried Paleoplacer auriferous quartz gravel channels. There is usually a well-defined main gut and pay-streak that is followed within the lowest part of the channel. There also may be bench deposits and hard rock veins encountered as with other properties. The Taber property is just downstream of the Melones Fault/Serpentinite belt which is bordered on both sides by heavy gold bearing zones. Every single property downstream of this fault zone for miles has been documented as heavy gold producers. The mines upstream paid well as there was enriched gravel from unknown sources further up but the mines downstream benefited most from this additional enrichment zone. State mining books and private Mining Engineers reports identify this area as producing the highest paying gravel channels in the state with great production records.
DrillingIn 1931 three drill holes were done to find the channel upstream of the contact in the main tunnel. Two showed the descending rim, the third within the channel. Following is an excerpt from Taber correspondence. “We have just about completed the third drill hole 385 feet right in the channel. The bottom or trough of the channel should not be very much deeper figuring the channel at a 4% grade at the bottom of the drill hole would be 24 feet high if 5 feet grade to the 100 feet it would only be 4 feet too high. Things surely look good for the Taber now the channel is assured. The gravel at the bottom of the drill hole must have been quite coarse as they had to blast a large boulder. Pipe clay, gravel, etc. all correspond with the channel that comes down from the Union Mine that paid $17.50 per ton car. The bore went through 60 feet of yellow pipe clay into wash gravel and gold and there is great elation over the turn of affairs. A tunnel is to be run to the pay. The assay of the number three drill hole was $1.00 per pan”.
The Sunshine Mining Company conducted an Exploration Program on the adjoining Bellevue Mine in 1984 drilling 46 holes that defined pay-streak at 400 feet wide. Following is a quote from the study. “Except for a precise definition of the gold content of the gravels (“grade”), which must wait actual underground development and bulk sampling, the drilling now has very closely defined the location, width and depth, bedrock conditions, and character of the material within the target channel, and to a considerable extent has also defined the contained “gutter” and “pay-streak” at the bottom of that channel. Although the gold content cannot be precisely or definitively characterized by drilling of this kind and density, it did provide a good indication that an average of at least 0.15 to 0.2 ounces of gold per cubic yard is present in the bottom 6 feet or so throughout much of the channel length”.
Permits/Environmental ConsiderationsPlan of Operations: Owner has operated under a Plan of Operations with the US Forest Service since 1982. The owner is presently renewing the Plan of Operations with the USFS. All previous plans had processing operations, but the present one focuses on rehabilitation of the tunnel while maintaining an active permit status. The permit process is scheduled to be concluded this summer. This will include the National Environmental Protection Agency report as required to be done by the USFS.
California Water Quality Control Board: A test of the tunnel discharge water showed that none of the 15 contaminants usually associated with mining were detected. In a May 23, 2013 Inspection Report of the Taber Mine, Central Valley Water Board staff does not believe that the planned small-scale maintenance and exploration activities described in Mr. Morton’s amended Plan of Operations (email dated December 26, 2012) for the Taber Mine require regulation at this time. The Taber will fall under the guidelines for Waste Discharge Requirements for Limited Threat Discharges when development and processing are started.
SMARA Reclamation Plan: There is a current SMARA Reclamation Plan with bond that is administered by Sierra County as lead agency with consensus from the US Forest Service and California Office of Mine Reclamation. It is in force and the last annual inspection in 2013 did not find any discrepancies.
US Fish and Wildlife, Final Stream Alteration Agreement: There is Final Stream Alteration Agreement for use of water from Gibson Creek for domestic purpose.
There have been no adverse environmental factors that have been noted in all subsequent inspections to the present. There appear to be no adverse environmental factors that would impede the development of the Taber Mine.
InfrastructureThe main tunnel for 1000 feet and branch tunnel are equipped with rail, vent line, compressed airline, and waterline. There are two Eimco12B air powered mucking machines, 6 ore cars, a slusher, and an electric trammer. There is an electric fan near the portal that provides ventilation. There is a 100-ypd trommel scrubber/screen with two sluice boxes and a duplex jig to scalp all heavy material. There is a metal storage container that has other equipment that is used for mining, drills, pumps, air hose, generator, etc. A storage area has some rail, air-line fittings, split-set bolts, and support mats. There is a 20KW, 440/220, 3 phase, propane 4 cylinder Kohler generator. This unit powered the trommel, fan, pumps; the battery charging was done with small generator. Also there is a Powder magazine 7’x8 ½’x7’ and Primer magazine 6’x7’x6’.
There is a historical bunkhouse that has been used in past operations and is used by the owner presently. It is not known if this use will be extended for future operations as it is owned by the USFS and falls under review in conjunction with the present plan of operations permit being applied for.
Skilled underground hard-rock and placer miners with considerable experience in the local ground conditions reside in the area and will provide a valuable resource.
Mining/ Recovery MethodsHistorically most of the mining occurring underground within these gravel and cobble channels was broken down at the face using picks and bars. Now drilling and light blasting techniques are used for advance and breaking up the gravels. This may present a situation for the use of boomed hydraulic breakers to advance working within these gravels. Most of the ground holds well by itself but in large areas it has to be supported by split-set bolts and wire mesh as practiced by similar mines in the district. Some areas require some timber support. The mining operations were conducted using air powered 12B muckers and slushers. These loaded ore cars which were hauled outside by an electric trammer. The gravels were transferred to a loader to be brought to the processing mill.
No sulfides or other minerals that have a potential for hazardous contamination are present in the gravels. The gold is not bound with anything unless it is still intact with the quartz host rock. The processing facility consists of a 100-ypd trommel scrubber/screen wash plant. The outflow from the trommel provides three cuts to the material, ½“, 1”, 1” plus. The two smaller fractions go through different sluice boxes, and the smallest goes across a pulsating duplex jig to recover all heavy fine materials. The gravels are easily scrubbed clean by the trommel as they are not cemented. Settling ponds are used with the water being recycled for the mill. A spiral gravity wheel was used to clean up the smaller concentrates after classification, the larger nuggets being picked out by hand.
Adjacent PropertiesThe resource can be added to by acquiring a lease to the timber property that adjoins the Taber to the West. The channel extends for another mile to the Thistle Shaft workings. This portion of the channel is unworked on their property and is without any easy access. The Taber tunnel may provide the only feasible access to the adjoining downstream property. Sunshine Mining Co (Idaho) had a lease in the 1980s on this property did extensive work on the Bellevue tunnel portion of the property. Records of this work and 42 boreholes are available. There is also a continuation of the unworked back channel across the private property upstream of the Taber. The length is about 2000 feet and extends to the old Union works in that channel.
Exploration recommendationsPresent development plans should follow the 1931 plan to extend a tunnel 1950 foot from the branch or main tunnel to underneath the channel at the site of borehole No. 3. There a raise would be made to intersect the channel. The channel can then be crosscut to define the character of the gravel. After this exploration crosscut, the bedrock tunnel could be adjusted to gain the best access point underneath the channel for mining. This would allow three quarters of the channel to be worked without pumping or hoisting. Not having to deal with water pumping would significantly increase the production rate and allow for quick shutdown/startup times with minimal maintenance between shifts. All of the workings would always be accessible. Ore would later be recovered from the lower section of channel exposed at the end of the main Taber tunnel after the upstream mining was finished. The upstream workings would enable the diversion of water from the below grade workings making it easier to work them. Only a few hundred feet of this tunnel would need some support. This practice would also eliminate the need for ground support and maintenance in the main haulage while not interfering with the working areas. A 350 to 400 foot escape and ventilation shaft will be necessary for the mining phase to provide for ventilation and the required second escape way. This should be near the area of borehole #3. Continuing the haul tunnel below the workings will provide a secure separate tunnel and provide a continuing second escape way from the working tunnel with natural air circulation from the shaft. This will eliminate the necessity of any other shafts. This distance below the working area also will provide space to do the initial classification through a grizzly by gravity from above and would present many opportunities for access to the channel above. The transport of this classified material from here could be done with conveyors from draw points.