Upon my return home from the December AEMA conference in Reno I mentioned to my wife Anita that some of my friends in this business all appeared to have aged, surely this hasn’t happened to me! That is when she gave me the look…
It will soon be thirty years that I’ve been dragging my family all over the west. They didn’t always want to leave, but we moved with the work from Winnemucca to Boise, then Lovelock, Burley, Winnemucca, Sandy and Elko, only to return to Winnemucca for this recent tour at Marigold. Anita still will occasionally mention how Lovelock made everywhere else seem better.
The girls and Jacob have married and are busy with their own families, Nicholas is at UNR and works at the mine as a summer student, as have all of them, Jacob at Marigold and the girls at Newmont.
Mining wasn’t part of my formative years outside of the fact that my formal education began at the Copperview Elementary School, which sports an excellent view of the Bingham workings 15 miles to the west.
My family followed Brigham across the wilderness in the mid 1800’s with my great grandfather John Carver personally directed to settle what has become Plain City, Utah. My dad worked as an agronomist and executive in the sugar industry after returning from WWII where he drove multiengine bombers and transports all over the world for the Army Air Corps. His love of flying rubbed off on myself and my brother Alan, with my brother making flying his career with the Air Force where he retired as a Lieutenant Colonel in 2012. We recently lost Alan in an accident while he was checking out a new instructor pilot at the flight school where he was working as their Chief Fixed Wing Instructor. Dad had a Luscombe that he flew out of a dirt strip in Utah, which has since been covered over in homes. I picked up my private ticket while attending Eastern Washington University studying geology. Alan got his private ticket at the BYU while he was there as an undergraduate and I was in graduate school. Alan’s death came just as our family was beginning to feel a sense of relief and gratitude for my wife Anita’s successful battle against cancer. I will eventually get my little aircraft back up into the sky, just not right now …
I’ve been fully involved in the exploration business since signing on during graduate school to a project in central Nevada. Then with two young daughters they moved us to Boise so I could be the Project Geologist on a (too small) of a gold deposit evaluation. The final feasibility report on that project was met with the expected layoff. The next opportunity came as the Mine Geologist at the Willard gold & silver mine near Lovelock. Not much pay, but a crash course in what it takes to keep a marginal mine operating. Putting Lovelock in our rear view we joined Pegasus during the startup of the Black Pine mine in Idaho where we made our home in Burley. That experience of being involved in a startup was challenging and very rewarding. It was here at Black Pine that we were able to do some (base hit) exploration and turn discovery and development directly into the mine plan. While at Black Pine, I was able to assist down south at the Santiago, Chile office for almost a year, commuting from Burley to Santiago. This kind of duty really can strain a family as the time away can’t be regained later. It is a cost that is difficult to quantify, but real. From Burley we were transferred to Winnemucca where I worked at the Florida Canyon mine with Robert Thomason. This is when our youngest, Nicholas, was born. All of our children have a different state in the west as their place of birth! Working with a proven ore finder like Robert was an exceptional experience as his team continued to build the resource and reserve of that camp. Mining continued there until recently due to that work and now with Bill Howald’s team starting it back up, who knows what other treasures they will yet exploit for their shareholders? While at Florida I was able to work a stint in Australia in the Northern Territory at the Mount Todd operation. Market changes and several other factors found Pegasus seeking relief from the creditors in Chapter 11 where they reorganized the company and we became Apollo Gold at Florida Canyon. It was just like they say, Pegasus went bankrupt slowly and then all of a sudden! It was here that I left the industry for a couple of years to work near my aging parents in Utah for an engineering firm as their Chief Geologist. Interesting work, which had an abrupt turn when we lost our biggest client, WorldCom, when they went bankrupt shortly after the 9/11 attacks. At that point Don Harris hired me to work for Newmont on the Carlin Trend. In this shop I had the opportunity to work with some of the best ore finders and definers in the business.
We did a few years there when the opportunity to work with Tim Janke opened up here at Marigold. Marigold’s management has always been forward thinking and continues to be today. Early on with Glamis and then with owners Goldcorp and Barrick, Marigold has been able to continue aggressive exploration campaigns which has tied several smaller mineral centers together into a much larger reserve. This led Marigold to expand the mining effort to where we are now north of 200,000 ounces per year in gold production. Our latest owners, Silver Standard Resources has continued to support our work of discovery and development of new resources. This work has and will continue to provide Marigold with a long and favorable future.
I’ve been blessed to be able to work with and for some of the best in the business, my undying gratitude goes to all of those that have taught and demonstrated how to conduct this business of discovery and development of gold mines.
We have been able to put together outstanding teams of geologists at Marigold which continue to amaze me at what they are able to accomplish with new discoveries and geologic insights. Our current team of “Incredibles” at Marigold include Karthik Rathnam, Andrew Smith and Matthew Fithian. Many before them have gone on to other opportunities such as Doug McGibbon and those that worked with him during the initial years of discovery and operation. Several others have moved on during the time I’ve been there, Perseo Anaya left to work for Agnico Eagle, Greg Brasel is now at a copper mine in Arizona, Hugh Smith is in Africa I think and Greg Eisen has retired. He probably looks younger now…
John Winton Erwin*
Erin L. Hart
Greg T. Hill
Joseph Kizis, Jr
Brooke J Miller
Justin and Ajeet Milliard
Mia (Cowgill) O'Neal
Shea Clark Smith
Roger C Steininger