Barrick Gold Corp.’s closed Golden Sunlight Mine near Whitehall, Mont., is coming alive again with the reprocessing of tailings, as Nevada Gold Mines uses concentrated sulfur from the mine.
Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte and Barrick President and Chief Executive Officer Mark Bristow met at Golden Sunlight to discuss the innovative project that is expected to create 75 or more jobs and tens of millions of dollars in tax revenue and benefits to Montana, Barrick announced.
The tailings from which gold was extracted in the mine’s mills when Golden Sunlight was in full operation will be reprocessed, with a focus on removing and concentrating sulfur (iron pyrite) that will then be sold to and used in gold production by Nevada Gold Mines.
Barrick owns 61.5% of Nevada Gold Mines and is NGM’s operator. Newmont Corp. owns the remaining 38.5% of NGM.
Barrick stated that the concentrated sulfur is not only valuable, but its removal will also eliminate a source of potential groundwater contamination at Golden Sunlight. The remaining material after the reprocessing will be benign and will be used to backfill the Mineral Hill open pit.
Bristow said at the meeting late last week with the Montana governor that the groundbreaking project, which combines rehabilitation with value creation, would serve as a model of Barrick’s future mine closures.
“It’s very much in line with Barrick’s commitment to sustainability as well as our philosophy of sharing the economic benefits generated by our mines with stakeholders. Everyone wins: the local community gets jobs and cleaner water; the State of Montana gets taxes; and Barrick continues to get some revenue from an operation previously judged to be terminal,” Bristow said.
“We look forward to completing the permitting process this fall and shipping the first concentrates as early as the end of this year,” he said.
According to the Montana Standard, Barrick will reprocess 26 million tons of tailings.
“It’s great to see Barrick’s Golden Sunlight Mine continue to invest in the community of southwest Montana,” Gianforte said. “This is the type of investment that is possible when state agencies provide a stable, predictable regulatory process that companies can rely on, one that benefits the local environment, too.”
The Montana Department of Environmental Quality is completing its environmental review of the project.
Golden Sunlight produced more than 3 million ounces of gold during its nearly 40 years in operation, shutting down in 2019, when gold production was no longer economically viable, Barrick stated.