Mining giant Barrick Gold Corp. said operations will remain suspended until early next year while repairs continue on a collapsed wall at a big open pit mine in central Nevada.
No one was injured and no equipment was damaged when officials say tons of rock and dirt slid Nov. 2 toward the pit floor of the Ruby Hill mine near Eureka.
Engineers had been monitoring that portion of the mile-square pit for several weeks and suspended mining operations the night before, officials said.
Barrick Gold of North America spokesman Lou Schack told the Elko Daily Free Press that stabilizing the area affected by the failure will require a new mine plan and may require new permits.
More than half the mile-square mine’s 120 workers were placed on paid leave, with plans to return next week Schack said.
About 80 workers now are being offered temporary work at two other area Barrick mines at Bald Mountain and Cortez Hills, Schack said. Others continue maintenance at Ruby Hill.
Eureka is about 250 miles east of Reno and 325 miles north of Las Vegas.
Ruby Hill management communicated with officials from Eureka County, the Bureau of Land Management and the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection before and after the event, and contacted the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration after the slide occurred, Schack said.
“It’s a concern for us, but thankfully no one was hurt,” he said.
Schack said Barrick hoped to keep its employees, but would offer a severance package to those who didn’t want to move to a new site. He said anyone who takes a severance package could be rehired when Ruby Hill reopens.
Schack said some trucks and loading equipment also will be relocated to Bald Mountain.
Barrick is the world’s largest gold mining company. Its Ruby Hill mine produced 56,000 ounces of gold at a cost of $914 per ounce in the first nine months of 2013, the company said on its website.
Homestake Mining Co. obtained a permit in 1997 to resume operations at the site that had been dormant for a number of years.
Barrick officials believe the Nov. 2 wall failure occurred where bedrock meets alluvium. The company has not provided an estimate of the tonnage moved in the slide.
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