Saturday, March 6, 2010

1965 ~ Four Homestake Mining Co. Veterans Retire with Over 154 Years of Service ~ Contributor Jim Hennen

Hennen DHS56 sent historical information to share about his Dad Clifford Hennen. Clifford and three other long time employees retired from the Homestake Mining Company in 1965. Included is a short interesting history of each retiree that spans from 1918 to 1965.

Clifford spent most of his career as a Homestake foreman at the Lead Sand Plant. The Sand Plant operation was located at the lower end of the Lead facility. It was a familiar sight next to the Lead-Deadwood highway even though many people did not know it's function. This Plant was the final step of Lead gold capture. The pond trapped the final fluid release from Lead site. The sand would settle and fill the Pond. Then cyanide solution was sprayed on the solid sand and the gold leached into another captured liquid. Zinc was added to this solution and the gold and the zinc would combine into another solid. This solid was captured by a filtering press. At certain intervals the press would be opened in sections. The solid was scraped out under guard and carefully monitored. This final solid was then smelted in the refinery process. The gold layer (and other precious metals like silver, platinum, etc.) in the Smelter furnace was claimed and poured into bricks.

Sadly, in the old days, the cyanide and toxic solids run down Lead Hill and into the Whitewood Creek which we called one in the same, "Cyanide Creek" or "Slime Creek". In later years, environmental laws prevailed and the Homestake applied new technology and new mining methods. They invented and patented a microbe that would eat and eliminate cyanide. The final fluid release was clean water. The toxic Whitewood Creek was finally cleaned to it's current state. Open leaching was discontinued and the Slime Plant (similar process) in Deadwood was closed. In 2002, operations ceased completely after 125 years of mining and the Homestake was sold to Barrick. The US Government now owns the Homestake property and has a Deep Underground Science & Engineering Laboratory ("DUSEL") and all the 125 years of pollution cleanup responsibility . . . thanks to then SD Senator, Tom Daschle.

There are many future articles that can be written about the Homestake Mining Company.

Well so much for a short history . . . Clifford Hennen was hard working and a very kind man. His family and his Homestake career were the focus of his life. Following are the documents from Jim Hennen that show an interesting view of the internal workings of the Homestake and Clifford's career:
~ Select on each image for larger view ~


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