Detroit City Portal at the Sweet Home Mine: Spring 2020 Update


         Spring is in the air here in the Rocky Mountains, following a relatively snowy winter at the Detroit City portal of the Sweet Home Mine in Alma, Park County Colorado. While the start of our 2020 mining season as the Detroit City project was delayed slightly to comply with local covid-19 related orders, we are now back to work at the mine.

Above: Snowbanks of the access road to the Detroit City portal can reach over 3 m (9 feet) high by the time springs rolls around! Below: Moving snow and clearing our portal area at the Detroit City mine prior to opening the mine for the 2020 season.

In early May, the mine opened officially for the 2020 mining season. There are several changes happening at the Detroit City portal this year, including some which have exciting implications in our search for world-class rhodochrosite crystal pockets. We have made several personnel changes, most notably hiring Cullen Baker, our new mine manager. Mr. Baker has had a long career in underground mining, including stints at the Stillwater Platinum-Palladium mine in Montana as well as the Grasberg mine in Papua New Guinea. He brings a level of experience and a passion for underground hardrock mining that we think will really benefit the Detroit City project. Our underground miners Chris “Cheese” Yurgartis and Aaron Reeder, as well as our all-around fixer and equipment operator George Quist have returned for another mining season at the Detroit City portal, and we are excited to have them back on board. Their skill at mining narrow vertical veins using traditional backfill stoping methods, first honed in Colorado’s San Juan Mountains, have been critical to our mining success the past few seasons at the Detroit City project.

Our portal area at the Detroit City project is starting to melt out in these late April 2020 photos.

The Detroit City project is pursuing several exciting new targets this year in our hunt for the superb cherry-red rhodochrosite crystals which have made this deposit famous with mineral collectors around the world. Our primary mining target this year is our main stope, which targets the upward extension of the main Sweet Home vein. The main stope at Detroit City produced two very small but excellent crystal pockets in 2019, which contained beautiful red rhodochrosite crystals in association with quartz, fluorite, tetrahedrite and other collectible minerals.

Above: Our miners drilling a blast hole pattern on our new Watercourse Vein target at the Detroit City Portal in early May of 2020. Below: Concrete barricades protect our shop area from initial blasting in our new Watercourse Vein target.

Our second target for the 2020 mining season is the upward extension of the Watercourse Vein, a mineralized structure which was responsible for many of the finest rhodochrosite crystal pockets found at the Sweet Home mine during our 1992-2004 specimen mining project. Our main adit at the Detroit City project crosses the Watercourse structure a few hundred feet from our portal, and we will drive new crosscut tunnel to access the extension of the Watercourse structure. Our mine geologist Dean Misantoni, probably the world’s foremost expert on the geology and mineralogy of the Sweet Home deposit, is assisting us in properly targeting this mineralized zone.

A Good sign! Rhodochrosite and pyrite sample from the intersection of the Pyrite 1 vein and Watercourse structure as seen in freshly-mined exposures, early May 2020.

So far, our work at the Detroit City portal has been focused on getting the mine ready for the 2020 season, including making sure all equipment and machinery is properly and safely functioning, on-site safety training, and development work we need to ready our main target zones for mining. As of this writing we have started actively mining and exposing fresh rock, and we look forward to updating you frequently throughout the 2020 mining season as we move ahead with the Detroit City rhodochrosite project!