The relationship between Wharf Resources and Terry Peak Ski Area is a success story of an unlikely partnership.
Both businesses are located in the Black Hills of South Dakota and have shared the same hillside since 1983. Wharf Resources owns 30 percent of Terry Peak Ski Area and prides itself on being a good neighbor.
While Wharf Resources and Terry Peak have had long-standing relationship, the partnership is currently growing and evolving. New and exciting things are on the horizon for Terry Peak and Wharf Resources is a direct proponent to Terry Peak’s future plans.
“Wharf Resources and Terry Peak have always had a good working relationship,” states Tom Marsing, General Manager of Terry Peak. “Wharf Resources has been a great resource for Terry Peak and we help out when we can as well.”
Wharf Resources and Terry Peak’s relationship took a giant leap forward in 2011, when a conditional use permit to extend Wharf’s mining boundaries was approved by the county. The permit allows Wharf to remine an area once known as Golden Reward, an active open-pit gold mine until 1996. This area is located on the northeast side of Terry Peak and required some creative collaboration from both Wharf Resources and Terry Peak Ski Area.
Wharf Resources worked closely with Terry Peak to find a way that not only both parties could benefit, but also how the community members could benefit from the expansion as well.
The expansion was planned into three phases; the Preparation Phase, the Mining Phase and the Reclamation Phase. The expansion commenced in 2012 with an award-winning highway relocation project and an award-winning overpass installation project. These construction projects were instrumental to the success of the planned expansion.
Other improvements during phase one included the installation of Coeur Wharf Express, a high-speed quad chairlift at Terry Peak, and the enhancement of a pond located at Golden Reward to help improve Terry Peak’s snow-making capabilities. These improvements will assist with the anticipated future growth of Terry Peak.
During phase one, Coeur Wharf increased its employee population by 37%.
From 2015-2017, active mining was agreed to only occur during the skiing off-season. The mining phase required some strategic mine planning and execution by Coeur Wharf. The pit designs had to account for the safety of the public using the ski area during the ski season, the stability of the Coeur Wharf Express chairlift and proactively prepare the site for reclamation efforts once mining was complete.
“Wharf paid particular attention while designing the pits at Golden Reward,” notes Ken Nelson, Mine General Manager of Coeur Wharf. “We wanted to ensure that we were maximizing our efforts within Golden Reward, while not disturbing the area Terry Peak uses during their ski season.”
Today, the three open pits within Golden Reward are in the process of being backfilled and contoured to fit the landscape of Terry Peak.
“Wharf’s reclamation efforts are going above and beyond to contour the slopes to make the area more amendable to skiing conditions,” states Nelson.
The reclamation plans include extending the ski-runs on the northeast side of the mountain by 1,200 feet in length. Coeur Wharf and Terry Peak are also adding additional runs between the two chairlifts on the northeast side. In 2020, once the reclamation efforts are completed and approved by the state, the land that was once an active open pit, will be gifted to Terry Peak for their use and future business plans.
“Reclamation efforts appear to be moving right along,” says Marsing. “It’s exciting to see the reclamation efforts progress the changes being made on the hillside.”
“This partnership has created a lot of potential for the future of tourism in the Black Hills,” states Nelson. “This expansion has created and will continue to create more revenue and more visitors to this area, which in turn, will positively impact the surrounding communities.”
Marsing notes the possibility of building a year-round recreational lodge on the land gifted by Coeur Wharf. Plans also include the addition of snowmobile trails, tubing, mountain biking trails and other recreational outdoor activities.
“The addition of this land to Terry Peak’s property opens a whole new aspect to diversify the activities offered at Terry Peak. We have an extensive wish list; it just depends on funding, community support and interest,” says Marsing.
Coeur Wharf and Terry Peak are valued members of the Black Hills community. It’s unique to see two inherently different businesses not only coexist but succeed together as partners. This partnership is one of Coeur’s proudest examples of the importance of Environmental, Social & Governance (ESG) in mining.