Jardine Mining Company 1930's - Montana

Jardine Mining Company 1930's - Montana

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Jardine Mining Company 1930's - Montana

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Beautifully engraved certificate from the Jardine Mining Company issued in 1936 and 1937. This historic document was printed by the Security Banknote Company and has an ornate border around it with a vignette of an eagle perched upon a rock with its wings spread out. This item is hand signed by the company’s president and secretary and is over 64 years old. Mining activity in the Jardine area started in 1866, with the discovery of placer gold along Bear Creek. Like many mining districts, this one had its ups and downs. In 1870, gold-bearing quartz ore was discovered at Mineral Hill, and underground mining of lode gold deposits started. Development of the area was slow until 1882, when this area was removed from the Crow Reservation. In 1884, major developments of both the lode and placer deposits occurred. In 1898, a landslide revealed a very rich lode of gold-bearing ore, and the boom was on again. By 1900, the camp (renamed "Jardine" in honor of Bear Gulch Mining Company treasurer and financier A. C. Jardine), had two 20-stamp mills, a 40 stamp mill, a cyanide-leaching plant (under construction), 130 company-owned residential and commercial buildings, telephones, electricity, and sewerage. According to the 1900 census, the town had 329 men, 62 women (10 of them widowed), and 87 children. Low grade ore and bankruptcy closed the mine down in 1909. Small scale developments occurred through 1917. At that time two men formed the Jardine Gold Mining and Milling Company (JMMC). JMCC worked the ore body through 25 adits extending over a half mile of hillside, leading to over 5 miles of subterranean crosscuts and drifts. As the depth of mining increased, the miners found increasing amounts of sulfide ores, including arsenopyrite. In response to increased demand for arsenic after WWI, in 1923, the cyanide-leaching plant was converted in to an arsenic recovery plant. By 1926, the company recovered over 3.7 million pounds of arsenic trioxide for sale, primarily to southern cotton farmers for control of boll weevil. The plant closed in 1936 when arsenic prices declined, but it was renovated and reactivated during WWII when the U.S. military's demand for arsenic increased. Arsenic was used in ship paints to prevent bottom fouling by barnacles, etc. Either the arsenic plant, the Revenue Mill, or both, ran continuously from 1923 to 1948. Additional milling facilities were constructed to treat these sulfide ores. The arsenic was removed by roasting and the gold by cyanidation. The ores also contain scheelite, a tungsten bearing mineral. The tungsten had value during select periods of favorable markets. Because of the arsenic, Jardine was one of the few gold mines in the US that was not legally closed by Presidential Order during World War II. However, the attempt to produce acceptable arsenic during World War II was a metallurgical and financial failure. During the war, the company had borrowed heavily to pursue the arsenic project. The mine lost money each year that it operated from 1941 to 1948. In 1948, the arsenic mill burned down. This lead to the bankruptcy of the company and subsequent ownership of the property by the U. S. government for 16 years. In 1964, the General Services Administration, custodian of the Jardine Mining Company property for the Federal government, decided to dispose of the property. In 1964, Mr. R.B. Blankenship purchased the property from the U.S. He managed the property for its real estate and recreational values until Anaconda approached him seeking a lease option agreement in 1973. The company also leased patented mining claims in the Crevice Mountain area. From 1973 through 1987, Anaconda, followed by Homestake Mining Company, completed exploration work on the property. In 1973, Anaconda began staking unpatented mining claims around the perimeter of the Mineral Hill property and the Crevice Mountain properties they had leased. Exploration over the next 10-14 years mainly consisted of soil geochemical sampling, geophysical surveys, and geologic mapping. It appears that only a minor amount of drilling occurred in areas outside the Mineral Hill mine and the Crevice Mountain leases. In 1987, the Mineral Hill mine was permitted and construction began on the present mill and support facilities. In 1989, full production began from 3 levels in the Mineral Hill Mine. The main focus of activity in the Jardine area for Anaconda, Homestake, and then in 1991, TVX Gold, was operation of the Mineral Hill mine. During that time, only minor prospecting appears to have occurred in the entire area surrounding the Mineral Hill mine, up to the Wilderness boundaries to the north and west. From 1974 to 1989, large blocks of claims were staked surrounding the Mineral Hill and Crevice Mountain sites. In 1996, the company began a long tunnel from the 610 level in the mine, to access the Crevice Mountain "Conrad" zone. This was done to provide a means of transporting ore to the mill and to minimize surface impacts. In 1996, significant water inflows were encountered in the tunnel (>1000 gallons per minute). This and poor operational economics, including depressed gold prices, led to the termination of mining and milling operations and the Mineral Hill Mine was put in "Care and Maintenance" status. During the 7 years of operation from 1989 to 1996, the facility generated 1.3 million short tons of tailings. These were dried and placed in a tailings impoundment on a terrace south of Bear Creek that is lined with 9 or 10 inches of bentonite amended soil overlain by a 60 mil HDPE liner. Final closure calls for a cap over the impoundment of 1 foot of growing medium overlying 3 feet of subsoil, overlying a layer of bentonite amended tails. Acid rock drainage does not appear to be a problem with the tailings or any of the numerous mine dumps in the area. The old tailings from previous milling has been removed and placed into the new facility.

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