The Whitehall Ledger - Serving Southern Jefferson County in the Great State of Montana

By Jack H. Smith
Whitehall Ledger 

Sunlight closure impacts discussed


Melissa Jenkins

Tom Harrington discusses the Golden Sunlight Mine.

In late April, community leaders, business owners, and local residents came together to discuss the impacts of a possible closure at the Barrick Golden Sunlight Mine.

Tom Harrington of the Jefferson Local Development Corporation and MSU Extension Office said he wanted to host a community meeting to take a look at the closure aspects from a community perspective.

Barrick officials announced earlier this year a final mill run at the mine will take place in late May.

Jefferson County Commissioner Leonard Wortman expressed concern about the loss of taxes. He said while the taxes are not going to kill the area right away, it is scary because that's a lot of money to make up.

Wortman also looks at the possible closure at Golden Sunlight as an opportunity. He said when the closure of the Montana Development Center in Boulder happened, they also looked at it as an opportunity for the area.

Liberty Place Executive Director and local business owner Tim Mulligan both talked about what Barrick has done on a social level. Geiger said Liberty Place is one of the largest employers and non-profits in this area of the county and Barrick has really helped them with financially support with events like their annual Festival of Trees. Mulligan told those in attendance that each year Barrick donates $10,000 to the Jefferson Valley Community Foundation. Geiger added they also help out with many organizations including 4-H.

Mulligan also stressed the importance of public use at the Candlestick Ranch and said that is right on top of his concerns.

Melissa Jenkins

Ed Handl listens to the discussion.

When discussing impacts of the closure, Harrington discussed the impact of contract employees at the site with companies like Red Path. He said a lot of the contractors became part of the community.

"They were here because they wanted to be here," he said.

Wages generated at the mine were also discussed by Harrington and he said those are people who buy goods and services here and it's going to have an impact countywide.

Harrington also spoke positively about a possible new concentrator project at Golden Sunlight as well as continued drilling. He said the concentrator project could be a stand-alone from the mine and bring in 15 to 20 employees.

Whitehall resident Ed Handl said the local schools are really going to miss them mine, adding they give a lot of support to them as well as their tax base.


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