A good story with a happy ending; a testimony to what can be achieved; congratulations.

These positive thoughts came to mind when I saw this piece on the wire this morning. I quote: “Meridian Gold Inc is pleased to announce that the Company's past producing Beartrack Mine has been selected to receive two awards for the Company's excellence in its reclamation process in Salmon, Idaho. The Bureau of Land Management's 2006 Hardrock Mineral Environmental Award recognizes effective environmental stewardship. Meridian Beartrack was chosen due to the Company's demonstrated track record of successfully meeting or exceeding federal, state or local reclamation requirements with minimal oversight.”

I have been to the mine, and have previously written this: The most beautiful mine in the United States (in my opinion) soars the high hills of the Idaho Continental Divide. To reach the site, you drive for an hour through pristine forest, green in the summer, white in the winter. The black granite talus slopes plunge to the road as the truck veers and slides the mud and snow.

At 7,000 feet in the crystal air and cold sun, the mill and the process plant glisten. Inside is that chaos and cornucopia of metal, fluid, and noise. Calmly presiding over all this is Adam Whitman, a thirty-something metallurgical engineer. He has a degree in metallurgical engineering and a master of business management (MBA) from Montana Tech. He lives in a Victorian house and leaves the quiet of the town for corporate deliberations in Reno and Las Vegas with misgiving. His daily round is meeting with the technicians and laborers who keep the plant operating, consultants, and regulators.. He subscribes to Infomine and reads my technical articles so that he is, to use his words, “informed and ahead of those he must manage, control, and influence.” He currently is seeking solutions to these issues: will reverse osmosis work; are wetlands effective in cold weather; why has that valve stuck again—should buy a new one; how do we justify next year’s budget; who will replace the guy who has just resigned; and so on.

Here is his description of his work and objectives (his words): Combining desired efficiencies for low-cost production, managing persons from both a higher and lower management status, reaching compromise between the goals of the budget and operational desires, understanding, overseeing, and interpreting laboratory analysis to meet or improve upon desired cost, extraction, or regulatory compliance goals. Uncompromising compliance with environmental laws and safety, while pursuing production needs. My job is much more than technical knowledge, but involves combining technical knowledge with interpersonal relationship building, communication, cost management, and logistical management to achieve the desired end result

His technicians are a happy group. They willingly help me dig test pits, collect soil samples, ship drums of rock to out-of-state laboratories, plot contours on computers, collate reports, and find something to eat because I forgot to bring a lunch-pack. They take time off from their regular jobs of adjusting the mill and process equipment, replacing warn parts, dealing with vendors, and maintaining security systems in the lonely hills.

You can see why the mine deserves its award.

I have met and been honored to work with other from Meridian. Here are brief impressions and their replies to questions I posed them and which they have been kind enough to answer.

Edgar Smith: His intense energy and penetrating questions have left me gasping for facts and figures to support recommendations, but I have always felt like a professional in working with him. He appears to have a talent for focusing on the key issue and driving forward to a solution. Rather than write more, I asked him to explain how he got involved in Beartrack and what his vision is for the long-term future of the site.

To conclude: I am guilty of association with Meridian. I am guilty of admiration for what they do. I will watch in anticipation as they proceed, and I wish them more such awards.