Mark Thompson, Environmental Superintendent, Barrick–Golden Sunlight Mine, Whitehall, Montana
Barrick Golden Sunlight Mine (BGSM) is an open pit and underground gold mine located approximately four miles east of Whitehall, Montana. Large scale mining operations were initiated in 1982, and since that time approximately three million ounces of gold have been produced. BGSM averages 155 employees from the local communities. Through the Stage 5B open pit and Phases one and two underground operations, approximately 60 million tons of ore have been mined at an average grade of 0.06 oz/ton; a 6:1 strip ratio; and an average mill recovery of 80%.
Due to the low gold prices of the late 1990s, and early 2000s, Stage 5B open pit development was significantly scaled back from original designs. More recent economics have provided an opportunity to feasibly complete the Stage 5B pit through an expansion called 5B Optimized. 5B Optimized extends production at BGSM into 2015, and is estimated to produce 400,000 ounces of gold from 8.5 million tons of ore at an average grade of 0.06 oz/ton; 10:1 strip ratio; and a 77% mill recovery.
BGSM is committed to operate in a responsible and sustainable manner with a focus on safety, community and the environment. At the end of Stage 5B, the operation totaled approximately 3,000 acres of disturbance within an Operating Mine Permit Boundary encompassing 6,125 acres. Nearly half of the disturbed acres were fully reclaimed concurrent with the active operation. Nearly 1,000 acres were granted bond reduction through innovative and successful reclamation proven over time. BGSM and the local community have established a model relationship through the Community Transition Advisory Committee (CTAC). CTAC's membership is a diverse cross section of the local community and Jefferson County, and its goal is to sustain mining operations in the area and mitigate economic hardship throughout the mine life cycle including closure through diversification of the local economy.
Mark Thompson earned a B.S. in Environmental Science and Biology from Stephen F. Austin State University in Texas and an M.S. in Environmental Engineering from Montana Tech. He has been employed with Barrick Golden Sunlight Mines in Whitehall, Montana, for two years. Mark is responsible for environmental compliance, permitting, reclamation and tailings operations. Prior to working at Barrick Golden Sunlight Mines, he worked for Tech Cominco at the Red Dog Mine in Alaska for 8 years and at Montana Resources in Butte, Montana, for 4 years.