Gold mine in Kershaw makes progress toward large scale opening

If approved, mining will begin at what the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is calling the largest scale the state has ever seen.

KERSHAW, SC (WACH) -- Jim Arnold slides open a heavy iron door, revealing cups of hot molten rock. The large ovens that heat the rock to separate out the gold are located inside a new $5 million lab just off-site from Haile Gold Mine.

"This half of it will be crushed up and assayed to find out how much gold is in it," says Arnold, the COO of Haile Gold Mine, showing a rock that has not yet been melted.

The mine was purchased by Romarco Minerals in 2007 after being shut down since the 1990s. As Romarko plans to reopen it on the largest scale yet, many in Kershaw are hoping this is just the beginning of new growth for a struggling community.

Kershaw is located on the southern border of Lancaster County, which currently has a 12 percent unemployment rate.

"I think it's gonna create a lot of jobs around here -- a lot more," said Sheila Hinson, a local realtor who grew up in Kershaw. "The economy when I was growing up was booming.... It has gone down down down."

Gold has been mined at Haile off and on for nearly 200 years. This time around new technology is making it more profitable.

While owners have not been given the go-ahead to mine, they have been drilling on the property for more than a year now to both find out where the gold is located and test the ground water -- part of the permitting process.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been weighing the potential damage the mine could have on the environment against the economic boost it could create for South Carolina. If approved, mining will begin at what the Corps is calling the largest scale the state has ever seen.