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As part of their experience as summer students with KG Mining (Bald Mountain) Inc., Luke Nelms and Jose Zataray got to explore mining equipment, including a shovel.

Two recent Elko High School graduates can add hard work to their resumes after completing a program with KG Mining (Bald Mountain) Inc. this summer, and their efforts will have long-lasting benefits for the mine, community members and area ranchers.

As paid summer hires, Lukas Nelms and Jose Zataray, both 18 years old, dedicated two months to the Kinross Bald Mountain gold mine in White Pine County. KG-BM hired about 12 summer employees and four interns this year to assist with departments including projects, human relations, accounting and contracts.

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Warm Springs rancher Justin Farris, right, instructs KG Mining (Bald Mountain) Inc. summer students Lukas Nelms and Jose Zataray on how to install a cattle guard in White Pine County.

“I needed students who were willing to work outside and get dirty,” said Dale Thompson, manager of projects and capital. “I ended up with these two, and they’ve been great.” 

Nelms and Zataray tackled projects such as working on public access roads, painting barricades, fixing fences, installing cattle guards and repairing gates. 

KG-BM has road agreements with Elko and White Pine counties to help maintain the public roads that lead to the mine. The summer students installed reflective delineators and picked up trash along the Elko County road, and repaired potholes in about 16 miles of the White Pine County road. They also assisted road grader operator Jack Swisher, who constantly maintains the county roads. 

The mining company owns the Tumbling JR Ranch, which encompasses about 500,000 acres and includes the Warms Springs Ranch in White Pine County. Warm Springs rancher Justin Farris collaborated with mine crews and the summer hires to install two cattle guards in White Pine County.

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Lukas Nelms, left, and Jose Zataray made repairs to the Long Valley Road in White Pine County during their summer work for KG Mining (Bald Mountain) Inc.

Replacing the cattle guards is being done “to respect our neighbors,” Thompson said. “It’s a partnership with our neighbors to keep our animals where they should be so we honor our grazing commitments.” 

As part of that commitment, the summer students also made repairs along the approximately 30 miles of fences and gates in the grazing allotment. Two more cattle guards will be replaced in Elko County on the nearby Harold Rother Farms this year to benefit that ranch as well as the neighboring Goicoechea Ranches. 

Nelms and Zataray said the most interesting part of the job was repairing fences with Farris, who kept them laughing with jokes and teasing. 

Farris “came out here and basically taught these summer hires how to build a fence,” Thompson said. 

As the summer program came to an end in mid-August, the two reflected on their experiences: seeing local wildlife including a golden eagle, badger, skunk, antelope and mule deer; realizing the large scope of KG-BM’s operations; and exploring large equipment like shovels and haul trucks.

“I’ve learned how to use different equipment and learned about different types of tools and ways to do things — different ways to fix a fence,” Nelms said. 

Zataray added that he learned “how to manage our time better and get more stuff done.” 

They thanked Swisher and Capital Projects Supervisor Jason Adams from Ely for being mentors during their time at Bald Mountain Mine. 

This fall, Nelms plans to attend the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, to study business, and Zataray plans to pursue an electrical systems certification at Great Basin College.