COOK, Minn.-AngloGold Ashanti continues to move quickly in its efforts to find mineable gold in Koochiching County in far northeast Minnesota..

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources reports this week that AngloGold has submitted a plan to do exploration drilling on state-owned mineral leases about 20 miles west of Cook.

State mineral rights that are leased often sit for years, even decades with little or no action. But AngloGold is moving fast, first obtaining mineral rights from the state in March and then announcing in June it was ready to start a focused search for gold with basic tools.

This is the first actual drilling at the site.

The DNR says AngloGold plans to drill 31 exploratory rotosonic borings within 19 active state nonferrous metallic minerals leases using "rotosonic drilling" - a high-frequency vibration of the drill bit to collect cores of unconsolidated glacial sediment and underlying bedrock.

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The company reported to the DNR that no drilling fluids are needed. It should take less than a few days to complete each boring down to about 150 feet below the surface.

The company's geologists will then examine the core samples removed from each hole to check for gold in an effort to hone in on a gold deposit where traces of gold already have been found.

The borings will be permanently sealed immediately after drilling, following Minnesota Department of Health regulations to protect groundwater.

All of the drilling-related activity is expected to take place on county, state or Potlatch-owned lands in the area just south of the Little Fork River.

AngloGold Ashanti is based in Johannesburg and has a North American office in Centennial, Colo. It is the third-largest gold mining company in the world with 17 operating mines in nine countries. The company also has several exploration programs in both established and new gold-producing areas.

There has never been an economically successful gold mine in Minnesota. But interest in possible gold mining in the state has warmed up in recent years. State geologists believe that gold in northern Minnesota is part of a geological deposit that runs into Ontario where successful mines already are located.

The DNR during the past year has released two reports on high numbers of tiny gold grains found on the ground in areas near Tower, sometimes an indication of far more gold below ground.

Meanwhile, Minnesota-based Vermilion Gold is drilling test holes to pinpoint gold deposits just outside Virginia and in another area of northwestern St. Louis County, just a few miles from where AngloGold is prospecting.

In Ontario, just 40 miles north of the Minnesota border, the New Gold company is digging an all-new open pit gold mine that is expected to be operational in 2017 with a processing plant also at the site north of Emo.