Nevada Gold Mines presents Commission with reassuring picture

Jason Morin, the new General Manager of Twin Creeks and Turquoise Ridge mines introduced himself to the Humboldt County Commission at their July 22 meeting. The Twin Creeks and Turquoise Ridge mines have joined forces as a result of a joint venture between Newmont Goldcorp and Barrick combining their respective operations in Nevada. The joint venture took effect July 1, 2019.

The new joint venture company, Nevada Gold Mines, is looking to capture synergies, which officials are estimating at up to $500 million per year during the first five years. “The objective of the whole JV is to add value to the business,” Morin told the commission as well as “to the community and [to] look at the length of life of the mines, which obviously carries over to the community for long term employment.”

The joint venture is the world’s largest gold-producing complex, with three of the world’s top 10 Tier One gold assets — Goldstrike/Carlin, Cortez and Turquoise Ridge/Twin Creeks. Barrick owns 61.5% and operates the complex, while Newmont Goldcorp’s stake is 38.5%.

Morin assured the commission that structurally the operation hasn’t changed much. “I know there's been a lot of rumors,” he said. “They had them in Elko; they had them here.” Morin said the management team was consolidated but the joint venture “is not a head cutting exercise, at least not at our site, we did have a joining of the management teams which was a reduction of four.” The reduction was as a result of employees retiring or continuing to stay with Newmont Goldcorp. Morin said Nevada Gold Mines continues to employ about 1,000 people between Turquoise Ridge and Twin Creeks.

Morin said the goal was to “implement synergies, which we're hoping to reduce our operating cost so we can drop the cut-off grade, cut-off grade is your key.” He explained that the company will try to exploit the resources onsite in the coming years to extend the mine life, which would extend employment opportunities for both Humboldt and Lander counties. “I know that Barrick is the operator and that Barrick took over Newmont Nevada in a sense,” Morin said.  “But it really is about looking at both companies and taking the best and trying to put them together.”

In the meantime, Morin says, the communities won’t see much change. Many of the Newmont community funding programs will continue but in a different form.

Monica Sill, Communities Representative for Nevada Gold Mines, agreed. “We are going to continue with the Legacy Fund,” she said, adding, that “the Legacy Fund will continue to be administered by Newmont until the end of the year at which time the fund will be managed by an outside organization because it needs to be its own separate entity. “I'm not quite sure what that's going to look like,” Sills said.  “But as far as components of employee contributions and then distribution in the communities where the employees indicate where they want the monies to go to, that will remain the same. We'll have more information, and as we do towards the end of the year, we'll be back to give you more details.”

Sill said that from the Community Involvement and Engagement Department standpoint, Nevada Gold Mines plans to increase its activities. “Our new head of Communities and Corporate Affairs, Rebecca Darling, she wants to take the best of both and make sure it's happening in the local communities.” Sill will be the representative for the West side of the state which include Humboldt and Lander counties.

Sill also said the company intends to continue the Lowry Mining Foundation but, again, she isn’t clear on the details of how the program will continue. However, she stated that she will report to the commission on any potential impacts to Humboldt County or aspects of the community programs that may be different. 

Andy Sholty, who is now the Underground Division Manager for the combined operation told the commission, “What we've started to consolidate here is really something unique and has the opportunity to change the way that people view the gold industry. The really empowering thing about that is that's happening in our backyard, in our community.” Sholty also said that in addition to the company being the world’s largest gold producer, Nevada Gold Mines is one of the largest ranch land holders within the state of Nevada.

Sholty told the commission that the teams have been realigned and what it’s done is to create excitement about future possibilities. “There's a lot of excitement and energy,” he said. “Now from my experience, excitement and energy never mean there's a gold deposit there, but when you get people that fired up and engaged, you know that they're going to look in the right places, comb the right data, ask the right questions and put the holes where you hope to find it.”