The US 95 I-80 Futures Conference featured business leaders from Pershing County including Frankie Graham, Senior Community Relations Advisor for Coeur Rochester. Graham updated the 200-plus crowd on new mine construction and jobs at the county’s largest private employer.

The company’s open-pit Rochester Mine currently produces silver with gold as the secondary product heap-leached from the Rochester deposit and, in the future, from the adjacent Nevada Packard deposit. In 2018, Coeur acquired the Lincoln Hill, Gold Ridge and Independence Hill mining zones and plans exploratory drilling in those areas immediately west of Rochester Mine.

“Last year, we produced 3.2 million ounces of silver and 27,000 ounces of gold,” Graham said. 

The mine currently employs about 325 people but the workforce could increase to almost 350 people by the end of this year, she said. 

“That’s this year’s total on our direct employees,” Graham said. “In 2022, we’re looking at adding just over 20 employees to our workforce. Of course, everyone knows those numbers may change depending on business and how things are going. In 2023, we’ll add the same amount to our total once we are in full operation on our current expansion.”

Coeur is investing $334 million on the current mine expansion known as Plan of Operations Amendment 11 that should extend the mine life to 2033 according to Graham. The company’s website explains the project includes a new leach pad, a crushing facility equipped with two high-pressure grinding roll units, a Merrill Crowe process plant and “related infrastructure.”

POA 11 was about 30 percent completed in mid-2021 with a contractor workforce of about 250 but those teams will “peak” at about 350 workers in the first quarter of 2022. The expansion should be nearly complete in late 2022 according to the company website.

After the expansion, Rochester is expected to produce more than 8 million ounces of silver and about 80,000 ounces of gold per year for the initial ten years according to a 2020 Coeur report.

Graham said about 75 percent of mine workers are from Pershing and Humboldt Counties with 48 percent from Pershing and 28 percent from Humboldt County. The mine indirectly supports about 650 other jobs in northern Nevada. Long-term mining jobs are available now, she said.

“We currently have a number of positions so if anyone would like to join our group, please go to Coeur.com and check it out. We’re looking for lab technicians, engineers, equipment operators, mechanics. There’s always something on there. We’d love to have you as part of our team.”

Last week, the company website lists openings in Lovelock for warehouse technician, electrician, heap leach technician, HVAC electrical technician, electrical instrumentation and controls technician, environmental coordinator, regional HR manager, industrial hygienist coordinator, mobile maintenance supervisor and business improvement engineer.

Worker benefits now include transportation to and from the mine site to reduce traffic, fuel consumption and greenhouse gases, Graham said. For years, the mining company has demonstrated that it knows the value of good community relations. Coeur has donated revenue, volunteers and equipment for projects such as this year’s Main Street Fire debris cleanup and recently donated a Packard Flat blacksmith’s shop to the Marzen House Museum in Lovelock. 

“Coeur Rochester has been a community partner for well over 30 years,” Graham told the crowd. “We believe in the idea that we don’t work here, we live here. We care about the issues that matter to these communities. We’re going to continue to invest in education, local term hiring and contribute to the community’s long-term success through partnership opportunities.”

In its Third Quarter Report 2021, Coeur confirmed for investors the importance of Rochester.

“Our key near term catalyst remains the Plan of Operations Amendment 11 expansion at Rochester in northern Nevada where we continue to generate and apply key learnings from the existing operation to best position the expanded operation for long term success once construction is completed. Despite the current inflationary environment, we believe Rochester remains a transformative, well-funded source of growth on which we remain laser focused.”

In a technical report released late last year, Coeur described its plans for the Packard deposit.

“The development of Nevada Packard is scheduled to break ground in 2029 and includes plans for a new leach pad, crushing facility, Merrill Crowe process plant, mobile equipment and supporting infrastructure which is expected to cost approximately $49 million in construction capital. Production from Nevada Packard is scheduled to commence in 2030 leading to the placement of approximately 32 million tons over the deposit’s six-year expected mine life.”