It’s 8 a.m. at Central City’s newly reopened Bates Hunter Mine, the sun just peaking over the valley walls. It’s been over 70 years since gold was last mined here, but as the miner’s begin to arrive at work on a November day in 2018, it feels like they’ve been here all along, like this is where they’re supposed to be.
By all appearances today is a normal day, although on the agenda is at least one extraordinary task; after months of removing water from the main shaft, the miners can finally access the 163-foot level, submerged and unseen since an exploratory visit in 2008. And, aside from a few maps that look like a simplistic version of Snakes and Ladders, the crew doesn’t really know what to expect on today’s seminal descent.
“We’re just gonna go down and check it out, gauge the condition of the infrastructure, poke around on the landing,” says Matt Collins, the mine’s general manager and engineer. “It’ll be neat to see how close these are to our maps.” Continue Reading →