Shannon Murphy, inventor, go-for-broke risk taker, special agent, adventurer and poet, is exploring for gold in the hills above Cripple Creek.
Owner of Murphy Mining Co. and the Providence Mine north of Highway 67, Murphy plans to hire up to 15 employees when the mine opens next year.
“We acquired tracts of land over a three-year period, consolidated and started to prospect-drill on certain of the properties,” Murphy said. “The prospecting led to further exploration and the company is preparing to get a mine permit in 2011 and move into production.”
Some of the land Murphy bought from Carl Roy, whose family has lived in Victor for generations. “I did a deal with Carl Roy on a handshake,” he said. “We agreed to do exploration and, at some point, start mining. It’s been a very successful relationship with Carl.”
A native of South Africa, Murphy’s curriculum vitae is intriguing, a clue into the mind of a man for whom vision is a source of energy and drive.
From a mining family, Murphy was the managing director for a publicly-owned mining company and, as the result of a reverse merger, was named executive director of KNJ, a larger group of public companies.
“Then my dad, Patrick Murphy, and I decided to buy back our companies and go private,” he said. “So that’s what we did. We went from a private agency to a public entity and back to private.”
Along the way, Murphy was a partner in a company that developed and patented a vertical-access wind turbine. “Throughout this period of time, I was actively involved in the South African Defense Force as a counter-insurgency specialist,” he said. “Part of my task was to identify and neutralize terrorist threats to the country.”
During the 1990s, Murphy turned his attention back to the United Sates, Fort Collins, in particular.
“We lived through a tremendous time of change and saw Nelson Mandela come into power. It was very exciting for the country and for us as citizens,” he said. “But during this time, because of the demands on me, we made an election to move to the U.S. It was a wonderful decision that has provided us with amazing opportunities.”
As a miner from South Africa, it was only natural that, once in the United States, Murphy would sooner or later pay a visit to the land of the gold mines.
“My first visit to Cripple Creek was an exciting experience, the snow on the mountains, snow on the Sangres, the Collegiate mountain range,” he said. “I stopped at a viewpoint that was a spectacular extravaganza, icicles in the air, one of those days you could see for miles; it was cold and very reminiscent for me in many respects.”
As a youth in South Africa, Murphy and his siblings would visit Pilgrim’s Rest, where their uncle was the manager of a mine. “We used to love panning in the rivers; we were the great explorers,” he said.
The childhood experience set the stage, Murphy said, for later in life when the town of Cripple Creek evoked feelings, memories. “Wherever you look there are remnants of tunnels and mine workings,” he said. “To me, it was breathtaking.”
For Murphy, the future beckoned in Cripple Creek. “I had no idea what it was, but, for several months I visited Cripple Creek regularly, walked the hills, I was enthusiastic, curious. And I met some very interesting people.”
Until 2008, the mining operations looked promising, with others investing in the Providence Mine. “Due to the economic crisis, several investors previously committed, withdrew their support,” he said. “And then we had the banks pressuring the company and me personally. It was really a nasty series of events. But we managed to conclude some successful transactions and have no properties in foreclosure or tax liens on any property.”
Today, with an office on Bennett Avenue in Cripple Creek, and the recent purchase of the Victor Hotel, Murphy Mining Co. is part of the community, with donations to the regional hospital as well as area 4-H clubs.
“We wanted to thank the citizens of Teller County and the city managers for their support,” Murphy said.
Next up is maneuvering the permitting process for underground mining in the county. “We see ourselves developing into a junior mining company focused on employing local Teller and El Paso county residents,” he said. “We ultimately believe we will have in excess of 15 employees at the mine. We want to make a difference in the local community.”