Homestake Mine (South Dakota)

The Homestake Mine is a deep underground gold mine located near Lead, South Dakota. Until it closed in 2002 it was the largest and deepest gold mine in North America, producing more than $1 billion in gold. [Yarrow, Andrew L. [ "Beneath South Dakota's Black Hills"] , "The New York Times", August 9, 1987. Accessed January 11, 2008. "Homestake, which is the largest, deepest and most productive gold mine in North America, has yielded more than $1 billion in gold over the years."] The Homestake Mine was the site of the pioneering Davis Experiment, the first experiment to observe solar neutrinos.

On July 10, 2007, the mine was selected by the National Science Foundation as the location [ [ Homestake DUSEL ] ] for the Deep Underground Science and Engineering Laboratory (DUSEL), winning out over several candidates including the Henderson Mine near Empire, Colorado. If completed, the DUSEL facility will be the world's deepest laboratory for ultra-low-background experiments on dark matter and neutrinos, as well as providing a site for biology, geology, and mining research.


The Homestake deposit was discovered by Moses Manuel and Hank Harney in April 1876, during the Black Hills Gold Rush. A trio of mining entrepreneurs, George Hearst, Lloyd Tevis, and James Ben Ali Haggin, bought it from them for $70,000 the following year. George Hearst arrived at the mine in October 1877, and took active control of the property. Hearst had to haul in all the mining equipment by wagons from the nearest railhead in Sidney, Nebraska. Arthur De Wint Foote worked as an engineer. [cite book |pages=p. 174 |url=,M1 |title=Interviews with Mining Engineers |last=Rickard |first=Thomas Arthur |year=1992 |publisher=Mining and Scientific Press |location=San Francisco |oclc=2664362] Despite the remote location, an 80-stamp mill began crushing Homestake ore in July 1878.

The partners sold shares in the Homestake Mining Company, and listed it on the New York Stock Exchange in 1879. The Homestake would become one of the longest-listed stocks in the history of the NYSE (Con Edison's original name was New York Gas Light and was listed in 1824).

Hearst consolidated and enlarged the Homestake property by fair and foul means. He bought out some adjacent claims, and secured others in the courts. A Hearst employee killed a man who refused to sell his claim, but was acquitted in court after all the witnesses disappeared. Hearst purchased newspapers in Deadwood to influence public opinion, and an opposing newspaper editor was beaten up on a Deadwood street. Hearst himself realized that he might be on the receiving end of violence, and wrote a letter to his partners asking them to provide for his family should he be murdered. In the end, however, Hearst was the one who walked out alive, and very rich. [Duane A. Smith (2003) "Here's to low-grade ore and plenty of it," The Hearsts and the Homestake mine", Mining Engineering, 9/2003, p.23–27.]

The gold ore mined at Homestake was always low grade (less than one ounce per ton), but very large. Through 1965, the mine produced 28 million ounces (870 t) of gold and 6 million ounces (190 t) of silver. [A.L. Slaughter (1968) "The Homestake Mine", in "Ore Deposits of the United States 1933-1967", New York: American Institute of Mining Engineers, pp. 1436-1459.] In terms of total production, the Lead mining district, of which the Homestake mine is the only producer, was the second-largest gold producer in the United States, after the Carlin district in Nevada.

The Homestake mine ceased production at the end of 2001. The Barrick Gold Corporation (which had merged with the Homestake Mining Company in mid-2001) agreed in early 2002 to keep dewatering the mine as DUSEL negotiations proceeded, but as progress was slow and maintaining the pumps and ventilation was costing $250,000 per month, [cite news |publisher=The New York Times |title=Flooding of S. Dakota Mine Stalls Plans for Laboratory |author=By Kenneth Chang |date=June 11, 2003 |url= |accessdate=2007-08-28] switched them off on June 10, 2003 and closed the mine completely. [ [ The Drive for DUSEL] (2007) a history of the Homestake mine as it applies to DUSEL.]


ee also

*Raymond Davis Jr.
*Solar neutrino problem
*Colorado Mineral Belt re Henderson Mine
* Cash, Joseph H., "Working the Homestake", Ames IA: Iowa State University Press, 1973.

External links

* [ Homestake mine visitors center website]
* [ Historical Deadwood Newspaper accounts of Homestake Mine]
* [ South Dakota Science and Technology Authority]

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