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Saturday, March 5, 2011

What to do with an old Gold Mine

What to do with an old Gold mine was and probably faced not only the Homestake Mining Company, but the citizens of Lead, South Dakota when the world-famous Homestake Mine was closed in 2002 because of the then declining price for gold and the fact the mine was over 8000 feet deep making it the largest and deepest gold mine at the time in North America.

Gold ore from the Homestead Mine composed of cummingtonite and chlorite from the 4,500 foot level where the new laboratory will be located.   Photo by Dave Dyet

Even before it closed the Homestake mine was famous in the scientific community for being the site at which the solar neutrino problem was finally solved. At the time it was known as the Homestake Experiment where deep underground laboratory was set up by Raymond Davis Jr. during the mid-1960s where Davis set up the first experiment to observe solar neutrinos.

The Open Pit mine at the Homestake Mine site in Lead, SD
Photo by Rachel Harris

Five years later on July 10, 2007, the Homestake mine was selected by the National Science Foundation for its new deep underground science and engineering laboratory (DUSEL) where it won out over several other candidates that include the Henderson mine near Empire, Colorado. When it is completed the DUSEL facility will carry on with the early work was undertaken by Davis for the ultra-low background experiments on dark matter and neutrinos. The site will also include other laboratories for biology, geology and mining research.

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