Andy Britton, Vice President and General Manager for Fiore’s Gold Mine in White Pine County, explains how lucky Fiore Gold is to have the experience staff that they have. In an industry where safety concerns are No. 1 on the list, specialized positions staffed with people who have years of experience and knowledge is critical.
“These people are some of the best in the mining industry, not just in Nevada. I would put our group with any around the world, and I have worked for some major companies.”
Britton noted staff have come from different states to Nevada to work for Fiore Gold.
The ratio of women to men is surprising as well. There is 70 percent of men to 30 percent of women that indicates the workforce for women in the mining industry is on the rise.
The mine site rests on about 6,000 acres. Britton explains that aerial flyovers and mapping is completed once a year to track total disturbance of the entire site.
Britton drives to the newest edition of the mine, the crusher. A piece of equipment so technologically advanced it’s programmed to form piles at a particular size and height, and upon completion it pulls in five feet, moves five feet away, and begins creating another pile.
The minerals that are placed into the crusher is a science in itself. Hard ore is plced on the north side, soft ore on the south side,
Dump pocket, where the loader dumps the rock into, it’s crushed up, then it flows through the belt, where the powdered cement is added. Every shoot that it drops is conveyed, water and solution is added to it, so the cement can begin working, “that gives the gold leaching process a pre-activation, working while it’s in the stockpile.” Britton said.
The leach pad area where all of the solution is placed to pull the microscopic ore out of the rock looks like a field of dark looking panels that stretch across an area of the mine.
Drip tubes containing a mix of chemicals break down the ore even more, before it runs into the processing plant.
Heading down toward the processing plant, it is a much quieter scene. No massive haul trucks driving by, loaders moving rock, it’s an area tucked away at the corner of the mine site.
“Down below is an area called the “Preg pond,’ Britton said. “Where the solution reaches down through the pad, it hits the liner, and the water then flows to a collection ditch, and into the pond, where it’s taken and pumped through the processing plant.”
Special ports for the pond have to be monitored every few hours each shift to ensure there are no leaks in the liner.
Thousands of black floating balls, float to the top of the water that keep wildlife from landing on the water, and also help with evaporation. It is estimated that the mine uses an 1/8th of the water that an alfalfa ranch would use in Nevada.
The processing plant is housed with massive tanks with solution. Britton explains, how the processing of the gold moves down through the tank, leading to one final tank where the largest amount of gold sits while it is placed into one larger tank that is very hot under pressure. That particular tank strips the gold out, appearing as a sludge like material. Special pulls the gold out into the refinery area.
Refinery, where the gold is poured is a very secured area. It requires signing in, signing out, multiple cameras surround the refinery, and it is reported that on days the gold is picked up, sections of the road at the site are secured until it is loaded and on it’s way.
Next time you are exploring in the mountains on a hike, hunting, or riding an OHV, take a moment and think about how much potential that lies beneath the surface.