VICTOR, Colo. -

What came as a surprise to goldpanners in the late 19th century comes as no surprise in 2012. The Cripple Creek Victor Gold Mining Company will continue to find gold in the hills of Teller County.

An application for expanding the facility, submitted to the Colorado Division of Minerals and Geology in February, was approved Thursday. It paves the way for a $557 million expansion project to begin. Construction is expected to finish in 2017.

The expansion would include a new processing plan and mining equipment. The footprint of the mine would also double with a second Absorption Recovery Plant and second Valley Leach Facility added.

"The MLE2 project extends the life of the mine out to 2025. Without MLE2, our mining and processing operations would begin an orderly shutdown of operations in the next couple of years," wrote General Manager Ray DuBois in a recent company newsletter.

The mining company already employees 500 people and 100 contractors. The general manager projects that this expansion will add 100 new permanent jobs and 200 contractors to their operation.

Some believe the town will be split on expansion plans noting that many realize mining is the town's main industry and others want a sleepy town.

"This is not Boulder and it is never going to be Boulder," said John Fowler, a longtime resident. "It's a mining town and, as you can see, we're doing a lot of work to this town."

Fowler is referring to improvements made to drainage system, streets and sidewalks thanks to tax money that is only possible because of the mining business.

"The mine is really a good will ambassador for this town," said Fowler.

The Cripple Creek Victor Gold Mining Company has out produced its budgeted gold production for the first half of 2012.