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Golden Sunlight Mine photo from the mine's website.

Golden Sunlight stopped milling on Thursday.

Golden Sunlight has closed. The once-thriving gold mine northeast of Whitehall stopped mining in April and had its final mill run Thursday. There are 52 Barrick employees still on site, and they begin cleanup work next week.

Now that Golden Sunlight is closed, what will the remaining employees do?

Mostly the 52 Barrick Gold Corp. workers will be cleaning up around the mine site. They will also continue to explore the possibilities of mining gold at the Apex Mine, a proposed underground mine tunnel that is fully permitted but which, for now, remains dormant. The miners will also continue to investigate the potential to reprocess the mine’s old waste, called tailings, which would recover gold and clean up the waste further. Golden Sunlight hired Montana Tech to help with that study.

When will the miners learn their fate at Golden Sunlight?

There will be a workforce reduction on Sept. 30. When the company will make further decisions on whether to pursue mining the Apex or reprocessing the tailings is unknown.

What will happen to the cyanide?

Golden Sunlight has a cyanide destruction circuit, and the cyanide, which is expensive to ship in, was reused until there was very little left. It is destructed to parts per million. Golden Sunlight is also certified under the International Cyanide Management Code and other international cyanide standards. Dave Williams, BLM geologist, says the cyanide on site is “well below the threshold for potential danger.”

What about water treatment?

Not unlike the Berkeley Pit, the Mineral Hill Pit went below the groundwater table, and the water must be managed in perpetuity. But Golden Sunlight has not turned off the groundwater pumps yet. Dan Banghart, general manager, says the company is continuing to investigate water treatment methods before deciding on what type of water treatment it will utilize.

If the tailings are reprocessed, what happens to the waste?

Some of it would be shipped to Nevada for roaster fuel.

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Nat'l Resources / General Reporter

Environmental and natural resources reporter for the Montana Standard.

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