From: Steve Raabe, The Denver Post
Published November 4, 2004 12:00 AM

Montana Voters Reject Colorado-Based Mining Firm's Effort to Drop Cyanide Ban

Nov. 4—Writer Golden-based gold mining firm Canyon Resources Corp. said Wednesday it will explore new ways to process gold after Montana voters defeated an amendment that would have allowed cyanide in mine operations.


The Montana initiative was defeated 58 percent to 42 percent. Canyon shares fell $1.51 Wednesday, or 52 percent, to $1.37.


Canyon Resources owns a huge gold deposit near western Montana's Blackfoot River, but development of the property was stymied after Montana voters in 1998 banned the use of cyanide.


This year's ballot initiative was an attempt to overturn the 1998 ban.


Canyon Resources said it will work with Pintail Environmental Solutions, also of Golden, to develop a biological method of extracting gold from ore at the Briggs gold mine in southeastern California.


Under the agreement, if Pintail can devise a recovery system that costs no more than half the market price of gold, Canyon Resources and Pintail will split the produced gold.


Canyon had planned to use cyanide heap-leach extraction in Montana. The process involves sprinkling a cyanide solution on crushed ore, which separates gold from rock.


Canyon's Montana properties have an estimated 13.7 million ounces of gold, worth about $5.8 billion at Wednesday's price of $425.40 per ounce.


Canyon chief executive Richard De Voto said the firm will continue to pursue a lawsuit in Montana seeking at least $500 million in damages from the cyanide ban.


To see more of The Denver Post, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.denverpost.com.© 2004, The Denver Post. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News.


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