Lucky Minerals announces investor at Livingston meeting

LIVINGSTON — The company that wants to look for gold in the mountains north of Yellowstone National Park fed a few people here last night, and they had an announcement that they said was coincidental.

Lucky Minerals Inc. has secured an investment from a Toronto-based firm called Clarus Securities Inc. that company officials say will fund the work they plan to do in Emigrant Gulch next year. Clarus has committed to give the company roughly $2 million. The deal is expected to close by the end of the month.

Lucky’s CEO Robert Rosner said Clarus is a “fairly sizable” institution, and he said the money will likely fund the work they have planned now. He also said Clarus will likely continue investing if the exploration turns up a profitable mineral resource.

“As long as you come up with the results, they’ll be there for continued financing,” Rosner said.

That announcement added an extra level of novelty to the company’s appearance here, which was its first formal public meeting to explain its plans for exploratory drilling in Emigrant Gulch.

Lucky first asked permission to look for gold on private land in Emigrant Gulch in 2015. Exploratory drilling is meant to find a mineral resource that can be mined profitably, and company officials tout the potential for a multi-million ounce gold property.

Environmentalists and some locals have raised concerns that the exploration will lead to a large-scale mine that could harm the environment and the region’s tourism-based economy. Lucky disputes those claims.

The Montana Department of Environmental Quality approved the company’s exploration plans in July. The Park County Environmental Council and the Greater Yellowstone Coalition have sued over that decision, and the lawsuit is pending.

Lucky hopes to be drilling next summer. Thursday night’s meeting marked the beginning of what they call their “community engagement” program. Five company officials were there, including Rosner, who lives in Los Angeles.

About two dozen people came through the doors of the Shane Lalani Center for the meeting, including both mine opponents and supporters. They perused maps of the project, sipped wine and beer and ate a catered dinner. Lucky officials gave a presentation, and they held a drawing for Lucky Minerals coffee mugs and t-shirts.

John Childs, who runs a Bozeman-based mining consulting firm, said he supports the project. He worked on an exploration project in Emigrant Gulch in the early 1990s, and he said he thinks the area can be mined successfully.

“I think it’s gotten a lot of bad press, and I think we need to look at both sides,” he said. “I think it’s a worthy project.”

Hilary Stermitz, who lives in Gardiner, said she’d like to see a mine come to the area so more jobs are available in the winter. She works at a bar, and she said her job is only profitable from April to October.

“Gardiner becomes a ghost town, and it’s not a pretty one,” she said.

Members of the Park County Environmental Council and the Yellowstone Gateway Business Coalition — two of the leading opponents — also came to the meeting.

Colin Davis, the owner of Chico Hot Springs and one of the founders of the business coalition, heard nothing to abate his concerns about the potential harm the activity could cause. He said it was good the company was trying to be more transparent now, but that the effort should have started earlier.

“They’ve been a ghost until now,” Davis said.