A resident of the gold exploration project area, John Hopkins said drilling crews have ruined this U.S. Forest Service access roadway. Photo courtesy John Hopkins

Native Sun News Today: Mining near sacred site has 'torn up' roadway

Miners want more Rapid Creek water near Pe’ Sla

By Talli Nauman
Native Sun News
Health & Environment Editor

ROCHFORD – With Canadian gold prospectors courting South Dakota regulators to obtain another 1.8 million gallons of Rapid Creek water for drilling on 7,500 acres of claims adjacent to the Lakota trust land at Pe’ Sla in the sacred Black Hills, county commissioners and state judicial authorities entertained requests during April for increased public participation in the permitting process.

Vancouver-based Mineral Mountain Resources Ltd., through its wholly-owned South Dakota subsidiary and their transnational First Drilling contractors, has punched and plugged three of their more than 120 permitted exploration holes since the company renewed its 2017 water permit for gold prospecting on January 2.

Their Rapid City engineering consultant filed for the most recent of three consecutive 1.8-million-gallon water permits on April 5, about the same time the prospectors knocked off work “due to spring thaw and muddy conditions,” according to the regulators at the South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources, or DENR.

By then, project area resident John Hopkins told the Native Sun News, the exploration process had ruined U.S. Forest Service access roadway.

“The drillers have torn up FS 184-a,” he said. “I won’t go there anymore except on an all-terrain vehicle.”

He described the situation as “thoroughly disheartening.” He called on Forest Service personnel to “re-read their charter and start protecting the Black Hills National Forest” by putting “conditions on the use of the public lands.” Since drilling commenced February 13, the operation used just under 463,000 gallons of water, according to the self-reporting to the DENR from the subsidiary on April 4. The prospectors told the state that exploration could resume in May.

With their current temporary water use permit set to expire at the end of April, they applied for the next one to run from May 1 through January 1, 2019.

The Pennington County Board of Commissioners scheduled a vote at their regular meeting April 17 on a resolution to request the DENR’s Water Management Board to conduct public hearings in the county for any temporary or permanent water use permit application from a mineral mining operation.


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Contact Talli Nauman at talli.nauman@gmail.com

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