From little things big things grow
An investment in human capital is underpinning South Carolina’s 21st century gold rush
An initial 12-month contract at the Haile Gold Mine turned into a 12-year career for Vice President and Country Director, David Thomas, who humbly credits his success and longevity to his team and the local South Carolinians who have continuously supported him.
When you hear David speak about the people he works with, it’s easy to understand how the operation prioritises people and why so many locals have established their careers at the mine.
“Without a doubt, the Haile team is like family,” he says, adding proudly that they are “world-class experts operating a world-class mine.”
The Haile Gold Mine is the largest gold mine on the east coast of America and will reach its 200th anniversary in 2027. OceanaGold purchased the mine in 2015 and commenced modern mining operations in 2017.
“I honestly think it’s the people that have worked with us – generations of families – that have supported the project become a successful operations,” David said.
When he first joined the Haile Gold Mine in 2008, David made an early commitment to the community and immediately commenced a journey of engaging with the mine’s stakeholders. It was important to him that Haile played its part in the continued economic development of the Kershaw region.
“I remember attending a community forum as part of an Environmental Impact Statement permitting process in 2014. Something that Linda White (Community Relations Coordinator) said when she addressed the crowd stuck with me, and they are words I’ve lived by as my career has progressed with the company. “She said: ‘Haile does not talk about the things they do because they are busy doing them.’”
Today, over 80% of the operation’s workforce is local to the region and the company’s policy to prioritise local procurement, means about 20 per cent of its total procurement spend is invested in the local supply chain, and 95 percent is invested within the United States.
In 2011, David was awarded Citizen of the Year by both the Mining Association of South Carolina and the Town of Kershaw. And it’s easy to see why.
“Developing trust is important to me, and to OceanaGold. I’ve always been open with the community and the people I work with. While it takes time and patience to build and maintain those relationships, the effort results in collaboration and cohesion.”
In September 2020, OceanaGold announced extensive future opportunities at Haile, extending the mine life to at least 2033. The company plans to commence development of the Horseshoe Underground in 2021 with first production targeted for late 2022.
“The next phase at Haile is exciting. We’re moving from only open pit mining to underground, which brings with it new opportunities to innovate as we introduce new technologies, systems and processes to operate safely and productively.
“For our people, that means continued learning and career development – and that’s a legacy I’m proud to be associated with.”