Montana Governor Gianforte and Barrick Gold Corporation President and CEO Mark Bristow have met at the closed Golden Sunlight mine in Jefferson County to discuss an innovative project that is expected to create 75 or more jobs and tens of millions of dollars in tax revenue and benefits to the State over the next decade, while removing a source of potential water pollution from the mine site.
The project involves the reprocessing of tailings, from which gold was previously extracted in the Golden Sunlight mills. The focus will be on removing and concentrating sulphur (in iron pyrites) that will then be sold to and used in gold production by Nevada Gold Mines (NGM), the largest gold producing complex in the world. Barrick, which owns Golden Sunlight, is also the majority owner and operator of NGM. The concentrated sulphur is not only valuable, but its removal will also eliminate a source of potential groundwater contamination. After reprocessing, the remaining benign material will be backfilled into the Mineral Hill pit.
Governor Gianforte said: “It’s great to see Barrick’s Golden Sunlight mine continue to invest in the community of southwest Montana. 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.”
Speaking at the meeting, Bristow said the groundbreaking project, which combined rehabilitation with value creation, would serve as a model for 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. 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.
The Golden Sunlight mine produced more than 3 Moz of gold during its nearly 40 years of operation. The mine shut down in 2019 when gold production was no longer economically viable. Public environmental scoping comments on the project closed on March 12, 2021 and the Montana Department of Environmental Quality is currently completing its environmental review.