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SD Group: No Gold Rush in Black Hills, Please

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Wednesday, July 13, 2022   

Public comments are being accepted for a proposed project in the Black Hills National Forest that would involve exploratory drilling for gold. Some safeguards have been added to the plan, but opponents still have concerns.

Minnesota-based F-3 Gold has been pursuing the project in western South Dakota and wants to drill along three acres near Pactola Reservoir.

Lilias Jarding, executive director of the Black Hills Clean Water Alliance, said her group worries it would move beyond the exploratory phase and pollute the water supply for Rapid City and tribal communities.

"If we got to the point where there was gold mining," she said, "the big concerns are arsenic, mercury and cyanide, which is used for processing the gold."

Despite its history with the industry, there's currently only one active gold mine in the Black Hills. Jarding said it's important to preserve the popular tourist area and not disrupt its economic impact. The U.S. Forest Service has given initial approval to a draft plan, but added provisions to protect resources. The company touts a "higher standard for sustainable exploration."

Despite any assurances, Jarding thinks anyone who loves the Black Hills should not endorse this kind of work on the landscape, even if it starts as something small.

"It's not reflective of reality," she said, "which is that any mining is destructive."

There are other proposals for the area, including another planned drilling project farther north of the reservoir. As for the F-3 plan, comments can be submitted online by Aug. 23. After that, federal officials are expected to make their final decision.


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