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...
In the Mother Lode, many mine shafts have filled up with water, adding to the environmental issues. And the partial urbanization of the region creates local opposition.
"If you are near civilization, it is difficult," said John Parrish, the state geologist.
Parrish said it can take seven to 10 years to assemble the needed permits for mining in California.
This...(said in best Lowell Thomas voice)...is California.