WHITEHALL – Since it first started in 1982, open pit mining for gold at the Golden Sunlight Mine near Whitehall has come to an end.
“Last week we had our last mill run. We had a short mill run yesterday just to do some cleanup but as of today the milling has been completed,” said Golden Sunlight General Manager Dan Banghart.
The mine, which employs 53 people, will continue the process of reclamation of the land and removing hazardous material from the mine yard. With the shutdown, the mine’s open pit – called Mineral Hill Pit – will not end up like Butte’s Berkeley Pit.
“Any water that would potentially accumulate in a pit lake, we would have to pump it and treat that water. No matter what, we’re not allowed to have a pit lake,” said Banghart.
The mine is still exploring other options besides open pit mining which could keep operations open a bit longer, such as underground mining for gold in other locations.
“We’d be looking at the underground if we were to do any mining in the Apex or if we were to do something in the south area,” said Banghart.
The Golden Sunlight Mine is considering turning their original mill into a tailings processing plant. This is where they would turn the tailings into a Sulfur-gold concentrate.
“You float off a high-sulfate concentrate and then dry it, and then we’d either truck it or rail it, or a combination of both down to Nevada, so there’s about, depending on how we size it, eight to 10 years’ worth of mining processing activity,” said Banghart.
But no solid decisions about the mine’s future will be made until later this summer.