Lone Pine, CA - Perched high in the craggy Inyo Mountains, between the dusty Owens Valley floor and Death Valley National Park, looms a rugged, nearly roadless chunk of desert terrain teeming with wildlife and scarred by mining operations.
Conglomerate Mesa’s charcoal smelters helped give birth 150 years ago to the nearby rip-roaring silver town of Cerro Gordo, where ingots were produced and shipped off to the small pueblo of Los Angeles by steamboat and a 20-mule team.
Now, the 22,500-acre tableau of Joshua trees, piñon pines and limestone boulders bristling with fossil shells is turning to mining again. Spurred by the rising price of gold, K2 Gold Corp., of Vancouver, Canada, is drilling and trenching in hopes of selling its findings or partnering with a bigger company that would, perhaps, transform the public lands into an open pit cyanide heap leach mine, just a few miles from Death Valley.
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