The Golden Queen Mining Co. Ltd. said it will soon be producing gold at a long-delayed mine it recently finished building in eastern Kern County.

The Canadian-based company announced this week it has begun the gold extraction process known as leaching at the 101-employee open-pit mine it co-owns at Soledad Mountain south of Mojave.

“With the leaching initiated and the first gold pour expected to occur in the next few weeks, everyone on site is working hard to achieve this milestone,” Chief Operating Officer Robert C. Walish Jr. said in a news release projecting a start to gold production before March 31.

The U.S. Small Business Administration is recruiting local entrepreneurs to take part in a seven-month program geared toward helping them take their companies to the next level.

This is the second year the training program has run at the University of LaVerne’s Bakersfield campus. Last year it took place at 48 cities across across the country.

To qualify for participation, the SBA says, applicants should be in business three years or longer, show annual sales of at least $400,000 and have one or more employees, not including the owner. It admits only one owner per firm, and the applicant should be a CEO, COO, CFO or president.

Business owners interested in applying must apply online by Feb. 29 at

A town hall meeting has been set for March 4 in Taft to accept public comments on how to balance recreational and business activities in the Temblor Mountain Range west of the city.

Managed by the federal Bureau of Land Management, the area has long been used for oil and gas, livestock and other industries. It is also popular with individuals who go there for off-highway vehicle riding, target shooting and hunting.

While decisions have recently been made about how to accommodate these sometimes competing uses, the bureau said now is time for parties to work collaboratively to ensure fair access and protection.

The meeting is expected to run from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the West Side Recreation and Park District Community Center auditorium, 500 Cascade Place.