The Cripple Creek & Victor Gold Mining Company (“CC&V”) operates the current Cresson operations outside the town of Victor covering approximately 6,000 acres, which is the largest gold mine in Colorado. You can take a guided tour of the surface mining operations during the summer months with the tour starting 10 AM and 1 PM at the Lowell Thomas Museum in Victor Colorado. Tours cost $7.50 per person and last about 2 hours. Employees of CC&V conduct the tour and they provide a wealth of information about the gold mine operations from start to finish.
From the Lowell Thomas Museum, the tour goes through the mine with the first stop being an overview of the mining operations occurring below. You see large trucks (about the size of a small house) carry between 1.5 to 3 tons of rock per load hauling rock or ore. The mine operates about 25 of these large trucks which cost about $2.5 million apiece. The tires alone run about $37,000 each, and are twice the height of an adult. Though not part of the tour, you can take a side trip later and ride to the top of the American Eagle Outlook which is about 10,500 foot in elevation and see the mining operations below. There are several old out buildings at the American Eagle Outlook including the draw works for one of the mine shafts. This is a worthwhile detour. The tour continues into the mine where you will see the drills which make the holes for the blasting material to break up the rock. (The deepest portion of the mine is about 1000 feet below ground). As you travel into the mine, you can see the holes in the cliffs which are remnants of old mining tunnels. At the loading area, giant loaders, which can handle about 40 cubic yards per bucket, fill the large trucks.
The ore which contains the gold, silver and other metals is trucked to the crushing facility. The waste rock is disposed at selected locations. If the price of gold continues to increase, some of this waste rock may be processed later for its ore content of gold. After viewing the loading operation, the tour continues to the crushing facility where the ore is crushed into pieces about ¾ inches in size. From there, the ore is spread over thick rubber mats and a much diluted solution of cyanide with water (about 99% water and 1% cyanide) is dripped over the ore. Over a 6 month or longer time period, the solution leaches the gold, silver and other metals from the ore and a liquid forms at the base of the leach field. The liquid which contains the gold is piped to be further processed. The solution is run through carbon filters where the gold collects onto the carbon and is later separated and poured into cone shaped hats called Dorees. The Dorees contain both silver and gold and are sent to Utah for refining to separate the gold from the silver.
For the money this is a fascinating tour and one that everyone should do.