I hired out at a flourspar mine which was being developed a couple miles from our home in Challis,Idaho. The mine was starting from scratch with a heavy media separation mill and underground development work for production mining. The first few months were dedicated to getting the mill and mine facilities up and installed. The company I was working for appeared to be well funded with good management. The people supervising the work on site were experienced and knew their business. As things progressed it appeared most of the emphasis of the construction was concentrating on things which improved appearance of the mine. Items critical to getting into production were frequently put aside to accomplish things like fancy concrete powder magazines and mill items which looked impressive, but had no bearing on actual operating efficiency. Myself and a miner named Dean faced off a portal, framed out the timber sets, and started mining the first production tunnel. The tunnel was turned under in an area of very good flourspar ore. All the high grade muck was piled near the project entry gate. Visitors had to drive beside the ore when entering the property.
The general consensus among the experienced crew concluded the construction was for show to get big money out of investors for future work. The people operating the company would get a considerable percentage of all investors money as the project moved forward. At some point and time the flow of investor money would stop. The company would fold and go looking for another speculative venture to lure investors. Speculative companies are very common in the mining industry and many of the investors understand the cost of failure to properly investigate the ventures. Sure enough, a few weeks later payday passed with no checks and operations ceased. A few days into the next week checks were mailed. The mine manager asked me to stay on to watch the site, maintain equipment, and box things up out of the weather. He gave me a company four wheel drive pick-up for transportation and prepaid gas on account for my needs. It went pretty good for a few weeks and my pay check didn’t arrive in the mail.
Speculators are very good at avoiding conversations and contact with disgruntled people. When my call was finally returned they told me somebody was coming to get the pick-up, job keys, and all the small tools from the job. They weren’t amused when I told them the pick-up was mine until my wages were paid in full including the day they got the keys. I wasn’t amused either, as I was dead serious. I changed the gate locks and made sure they wouldn’t unload everything on site without my knowing it. I could be hard nosed too.
Dealing with the speculators was good experience……….unlike the investors I got my money.