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Wharf Mine from above

The Wharf Mine, as seen from above during the summer of 2017.

A Chicago-based mining company sold $125.9 million worth of precious metals last year from its mine in the Black Hills, while paying taxes of $6.73 million in South Dakota.

Wharf Resources, a subsidiary of Coeur Mining, recently submitted a required annual report to the South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

The report says the 8-square-mile Wharf Mine, next to Terry Peak near Lead, produced 95,372 ounces of gold in 2017 and 63,535 ounces of silver.

Both numbers were down from 2016, when the mine produced 109,175 ounces of gold and 105,144 ounces of silver.

The 2017 production was the result of strip-mining 10.27 million tons of overburden and waste rock, processing 4.56 million tons of ore, using 1.04 million pounds of cyanide to leach the minerals out of the ore, and consuming 92.1 million gallons of groundwater and 62.2 million gallons of surface water in the process.

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Gold mining has been conducted in the Black Hills since the late 1800s, but the Wharf Mine is now the region’s only active large-scale gold mine. Coeur sells the gold and silver from the mine to multinational banks, bullion trading houses and refiners around the world.

In public disclosures to it stockholders, Coeur said the Wharf Mine had paid for itself by the end of 2017 with $130 million in free cash flow generated since Coeur bought the mine for $99 million in 2015.

The mine had 207 employees at the end of 2017 and a payroll of $13 million, or $20 million including benefits.

Coeur paid $5.96 million in severance taxes to South Dakota’s state government in 2017, plus $277,516 in sales and use taxes to state and local governments, and $494,567 in other local taxes — primarily property taxes to Lawrence County. The company also donated $127,00 in 2017 to Lead-area community groups, schools and charities.

The Wharf Mine is one of five mines owned by Coeur Mining in North America. The company reported about $700 million in total revenue for 2017.

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Contact Seth Tupper at seth.tupper@rapidcityjournal.com

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Enterprise Reporter

Enterprise reporter for the Rapid City Journal and author of "Calvin Coolidge in the Black Hills."