In the more than 10 years I spent away from Nevada, I searched for reminders of my home state wherever I went.
West Texas landscapes with hills and mines reminded me of where I grew up in Yerington. Pine trees in East Texas would bring back memories of the Sierras. Birds of prey soaring above the state Capitol in Austin would beckon me to return West.
When I did return, I didn’t expect working for Mining Quarterly would take me back to my hometown of Yerington in such a down-to-earth way.
For this issue of the magazine, I toured Nevada Copper Corp.’s Pumpkin Hollow project in Yerington. Preworks construction restarted this summer, and the team invited me on-site when contractors performed the first underground blast to recommence sinking the main shaft.
I was glad to be part of the company’s landmark day on their journey to copper production, scheduled for late 2019. Read more about Pumpkin Hollow on Page 5.
The day also allowed me to reconnect with the landscape of my youth by off-roading over the salt-scrub hills with Tim Dyhr, Nevada Copper vice president of environment and external relations, and reunite with several childhood friends.
Upon arrival, Rod Pellegrini greeted me at the security gate. I waited for him to recognize my last name as he spelled it on the sign-in sheet. I have picked grapes alongside him at his brother’s vineyard. Focused on the security business he started to service the startup mine, the family acquaintance let me pass with a friendly smile.
Inside the headquarters building, Jenna Joyner at the front desk and I remembered each other from attending youth services at the Yerington Vineyard Church.
Next, I asked for the name of a miner. Jordon Montero recognized me faster than I did him, the little brother of one of my own brother’s best friends growing up. The young gentleman later brought me a bottle of water as I toured the site, and I couldn’t help but feel he did so out of respect for our families’ friendship.
Nevada Copper employee Drew Lemos, an environmental technician, also knew my family and a mutual friend. Several others that day, including Jim Chico of Desert Engineering and construction miner Juvenal Pineda, remembered my father, Dr. Gary J. Halko, who practiced dentistry downtown.
These Yerington residents and others are among those who stand to benefit from renewing the mining industry in Mason Valley. Although the focus of Yerington’s approximately 3,000 residents has been largely agriculture for decades, the district remembers its mining past, including the prosperity and environmental lessons from the former Anaconda operation.
David Swisher, Nevada Copper vice president of operations, said he appreciates small-town values and aims to shape the culture of the mine operation to help preserve the treasure that Yerington is.
“I want to see it grow together, and I want people to have ownership not only in our project but our community,” he said. “It’s extremely important. If we can set our standards to be responsible and professional, it will hopefully better people’s lives.”
Having a love for this Nevada of mine and for the people of Yerington, I hope so, too.