WHITEHALL – Since its inception in 1982, surface gold mining at the Golden Sunlight mine near Whitehall has come to an end.
âLast week we had our last grinding cycle. We had a short grinding cycle yesterday just to do a little cleaning up, but by now the grinding is complete, âsaid Dan Banghart, Managing Director of Golden Sunlight.
The mine, which employs 53 people, will continue the process of reclaiming the land and removing hazardous materials from the mine site. With the closure, the mine’s surface mine – called the Mineral Hill Pit – will not end up like the Berkeley mine at Butte.
âAny water that might collect in a kettle lake, we’ll have to pump and treat it. Either way, we are not allowed to have a kettle lake, âBanghart said.
The mine is still exploring options other than surface mining that could keep operations open a little longer, such as underground gold mining in other locations.
“We would be looking into the subsoil if we were to be mining in the Apex or if we were to do something in the South Zone,” Banghart said.
The Golden Sunlight mine plans to transform its original plant into a tailings processing plant. This is where they would turn the tailings into a concentrate of sulfur and gold.
âYou float a high sulfate concentrate, then you dry it, then we haul it by truck or by rail, or a combination of both to Nevada, so there is roughly, depending on how we size it , eight to 10 years’ worth of mining processing business, âBanghart said.
But no solid decision about the future of the mine will be made until the end of the summer.