California is being left behind by the new Gold Rush.
Despite sky-high prices and the state's rich gold legacy, the industry here is mostly dormant. California trails the leading gold-producing state, Nevada, by a wide margin.
A California revival is hardly imminent. Companies trying to reopen old mines in Grass Valley and near Sutter Creek have slogged through years of red tape, and there are no guarantees of success. The Sutter Creek plan is at least a year away, while Grass Valley is several years from reopening.
Standing in the way: scarcity of capital and strict environmental standards.
There's a cultural issue, too. Old mining towns still embrace their Gold Rush roots but have become havens for tourists and retirees. Some residents aren't convinced that blasting through rock is compatible with boutiques or bed-and-breakfasts.
In Grass Valley, for instance, a thriving high-tech industry has sprouted in a community where the high school sports teams are called the Miners. Emotions are mixed on the proposal by Emgold Mining Corp. of Vancouver, British Columbia, to reopen the old Idaho-Maryland Mine, which hasn't operated since 1956.
"The landscape of the community has changed," said Mayor Lisa Swarthout. "When it was an operating mine it was pretty much in the middle of nowhere. The community has grown around it."
Swarthout said she hasn't yet taken a position on the proposal.
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