Frequently Asked Questions about the Haile Gold Mine
Q: In what ways does the mine benefit our community?
The Haile Gold Mine is proud to have wide-ranging social and economic benefits for Lancaster County and South Carolina. More than 550 people are currently employed with the mine and 89% of our employees live in Lancaster County and the surrounding areas. We are neighbors, friends, volunteers, customers and leaders within the community.
In addition to creating hundreds of jobs for the region, the Haile Gold Mine spends more than $3 million per month locally through employment and the purchase of local goods and services. That astounding figure doesn’t even account for the individual spending of our employees and contractors who also make a range of purchases, from new homes and new cars to meals and gasoline.
Haile also generates roughly $70 million annually in direct and indirect revenue in local counties, which has led to new opportunities to improve support for schools, police departments, fire departments, and other key civic initiatives. And this $70 million in revenue each year – for Lancaster County and the state of South Carolina – is expected to continue for as long as the mine is in operation.
Beyond economic growth, the region also benefits from OceanaGold’s longstanding tradition of supporting the communities in which it operates. We are committed to making a positive contribution by supporting programs which meet health, education, sustainability and infrastructure needs.
Our employees – as neighbors, friends and members of the community – also donate 100’s of hours each year in schools, civic and volunteer organizations. Whether it’s contributing to build a local park, donating a home for a victim of arson, visiting local schools, or volunteering at charity events and festivals, we are dedicated to making a positive impact in our community.
Q: Gold mining in South Carolina?
Surprised? Don’t be! The Carolinas was the site of the first gold rush in the U.S. and Charlotte was the site of the second U.S. Mint because that’s where the gold was. The Haile property has been mined and re-mined for nearly 200 years. Read more about the impressive history of the Haile Gold Mine here.
Q: How long will OceanaGold operate the Haile Gold Mine?
We are optimistic the Haile Gold Mine will be in operation beyond the current estimate of 13 years, especially since less than 1 percent of all mines actually close without discovering more ore than what was originally anticipated. Exploration will continue throughout the life of the mine, so new gold reserves may be discovered along the way, translating to even more revenue and more jobs for the area.
Q: Can I get a job at the mine?
We frequently have openings for positions at Haile Gold Mine. If interested, you may apply here!
Q: Where do your employees come from?
We currently have more than 550 people working at Haile Gold Mine. 89% of our employees live in Lancaster County and the surrounding areas. We are friends, neighbors and co-workers.
Q: In total, how much will it cost to complete the building of the Haile Gold Mine?
OceanaGold has invested approximately $380 million to build the mine!
Q: Has the Haile Gold Mine begun actual production of gold?
The Haile Gold Mine went through a long and diligent process of planning, permitting and construction, and completed the primary construction phase and commissioning of the facilities during the first half of 2017. We poured our first gold in the very late hours of January 19th, 2017, and production has continued. (See our Updates section for more information on that inaugural pour, including a video peek at the big event!) The Haile Gold Mine produced nearly 37,000 ounces of gold in the first half of 2017.
Q: How is the gold mined?
The Haile Gold Mine functions around the clock through an open-pit operation, which is typically used when mineral deposits are shallow. For the safety of our workers, the pits must be dug at a depth that allows its walls to be sloped at a shallow enough angle for large equipment to travel in and out of the mine. As of today, our planned deepest pit is about 840 feet.
To remove as much of the precious metal as possible, a series of pits will be dug in a sequential order and backfilled as other pits are opened to return the land to a useful purpose and protect the surrounding natural resources.
Q: Why do you need to make such a big hole?
It takes a lot of rock to get a little gold. First, the pit walls must be sloped back for the safety of the workers. Then there are wide roads to get very large equipment in and out safely. Once we reach the ore, it takes 2 tons of rock to produce one ounce of gold.
Q: Who is OceanaGold?
OceanaGold Corporation is a significant multinational gold and copper producer with over 25 years of operating sustainably in New Zealand and more recently in the Philippines & the United States. OceanaGold, based in Melbourne, Australia, purchased the Haile Gold Mine from Romarco Minerals, Inc. in July of 2015. You can learn more about OceanaGold on its website.
Q: How much experience does OceanaGold’s Haile team have in building mines?
The mining team is one of the most highly skilled in the industry. They have a combined 300 years of successfully building and reclaiming approximately 100 mines in various parts of the world.
Q: What will happen to the mine site once you are through mining?
At the end of the mine life the site will be contoured, topsoil restored and revegetated. We will return the site to a useful purpose and protect the surrounding natural resources. Engineered wetlands will be installed where appropriate to ensure long-term water quality. As for specific uses, we’re open to suggestions, which so far have included a farm, a golf course, a manufacturing site (we’ll have lots of proven, skilled workers), a shooting range, and a wildlife refuge. Let us know if you have an idea!
Q: What type of vegetation will you plant at closure?
Where possible, Haile will plant a natural mix for the area wildlife. Some areas, however, will require a more managed vegetative mix to enable monitoring. We will have the opportunity over the course of the life of the mine to determine which mixes are best suited for each area.
Q: What if you just leave after you extract the gold?
First, we are deeply committed to this community where we live and work. We won’t abruptly leave one day. Second, a sizeable bond is with the State. If we leave, we forfeit millions of dollars and OceanaGold likely will never be able to permit another mine…ever.
Q: How much have you spent on environmental studies?
Over the past five years, Haile has spent over $4.5 million dollars on environmental studies. And, OceanaGold has instituted what is possibly the most rigorous environmental program in mining.
Q: Couldn’t you locate the Tailings Facility somewhere else where there are less wetlands? The facility is huge.
Over a two-year period, Haile looked at over forty locations and intensely studied twenty-one locations for this facility. Due to engineering constraints, land issues or environmental concerns, the current location was the best alternative. Not the cheapest to build or operate, just the best alternative.
Q: Are wetland impacts temporary?
When the Haile Mine is reclaimed, several existing streams and wetlands will be reestablished and many new wetlands and streams will be created. We will spend more than $27 million on our wetlands and stream mitigation when all is said and done. Mining has occurred at Haile since 1827, and many of the currently existing wetland features and water bodies are a result of past mining.
Q: Why do commercial developments impact less wetlands?
Wal-Marts or other commercial developments can be moved to another location/community to avoid or minimize wetlands. An ore body with gold in it is naturally located wherever you find it and cannot be moved. Haile rearranged and reshaped many of its other facilities to avoid and minimize its impact as much as possible.
Q: How will rainwater on the site be managed?
OceanaGold has instituted what is possibly the most rigorous environmental program in mining. While operating, any rain that falls in the pit or on high sulfide material will be collected and treated to ensure quality standards are met before released. Water used for processing will be cyanide neutralized before being sent to tailings and will be 100% recycled for the life of Haile.
Q: What about all the rain we get?
We have designed a lot of extra space into the tailing facility. It would have to rain more than eight feet of water to top our pond.
Q: What about the rain everywhere else?
If rain falls in the natural areas, it will just go to the creeks like it does now. If it could become a little muddy, we will allow the mud to settle before letting it go to the creek as required under our Stormwater Permit. All other rain water goes to our state-of-the-art water treatment system which will be permitted under our NPDES permit. Let it rain!
Q: What was the mine’s mitigation plan?
Haile developed a mitigation plan that was approved by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The plan compensates for the wetlands that we will be using, by ensuring the long-term protection of three properties: Goodwill Plantation and Cooks Mountain in the Wateree River watershed and Rainbow Ranch in the Lynches River watershed. In 2015, we transferred ownership of three land parcels totaling 4,374 acres to the S.C. Department of Natural Resources, creating the 3,677-acre Wateree River Heritage Preserve in Richland County and adding nearly 700 acres to Forty-Acre Rock Heritage Preserve in Lancaster County. We are providing an endowment of $9.4 million to the SCDNR Heritage Trust Program, to restore and enhance wetlands and streams on all three tracts for the long term, and for projects benefiting the Carolina Heelsplitter mussel. This land will be protected forever, for the benefit of present and future generations.
Q: Does the mine endanger the Carolina Heelsplitter?
No. In fact, independent, pre-mining surveys did not find any indication of any endangered species located near the mine. But even though the Carolina Heelsplitter does not exist on the property of the Haile Gold Mine, we understand the importance of protecting this species for future generations and provided the state of South Carolina with three pieces of beautiful property in our mitigation plan to include Rainbow Ranch, which is a site where the Carolina Heelsplitter can be protected.
Q: Will you use cyanide?
Yes. Cyanide has been used in gold mining for more than 100 years and is still considered state-of-the-art for mining today. Cyanide, in fact, has been used safely in the last two mining operations on the Haile site. We will use the very highest standards to monitor the use of cyanide in our production of gold.
Q: Will you use Mercury?
No. Mercury will not be used in any process on site.
Q: Is there security?
Yes. There are security personnel at Haile around the clock. Haile also installed and maintains a perimeter fence around the mining areas with a secondary fence installed around ponds and chemical usage areas. The Haile Gold Mine is a very secure site.
Q: Will you take water from my well for mining operations?
No. All testing tells us that wells on neighboring properties will not be impacted by mining operations. We will test and monitor ground water throughout the mine life to ensure we do not impact wells.
Q: Will the mining cause a lot of noise?
No. The Haile Gold Mine will employ modern techniques to minimize the noise caused from mining operations; however, there may be instances when nearby residents hear blasting, which will sound like a distant thunder. Weekly blasting schedules are posted on our “News” page.
Blasting is performed to break up the rocky ore body before extracting gold. Significant advancements in technology have allowed us to make the process as safe as possible and much more efficient, breaking down a larger amount of rock with far less detonating agent and ultimately reducing the noise level and the number of times blasting must occur.
Q: Will the mine run around the clock?
Yes, the plant and mining operations will run 24 hours, 7 days a week.