ContentsPutah and Cache: McLaughlin Mine

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A Side Trip to Gold

Robert Thayer

If, instead of heading northwest toward Cobb and Boggs Mountains, you head north toward Lower Lake and then southeast on Morgan Valley Road, you eventually arrive at the Homestake McLaughlin goldmine. This modern mine processes massive amounts of ore, yet all of the gold mined over the life of the McLaughlin Mine would fit into a large-sized van. Most of us possess some items made of gold. In the case of gold mining, perhaps we are all "principal responsible parties."

The McLaughlin uses a complex recycling process involving mercury, cyanide and other compounds to release the gold. The mine site overlaps several old mercury mines whose toxic tailings had been leaching into the watershed, so the effluent now coming off the McLaughlin mine is far better than before the mine was established. The McLaughlin mine has set the new standard for containment of toxic run-off.

Homestake Mining Company has transferred thousands of acres of its lands to the University, who will manage it as the McLaughlin Reserve, the flagship of UC Davis' ecological research areas.

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