PIERRE, S.D. — South Dakota regulators have approved a permit for a mining company to explore for gold at a site overlooking Spearfish Canyon in the Black Hills.
The exploration permit does not allow Valentine Mining Co. to extract gold, but it will enable the company to get a better idea of what lies beneath the claim by building a few miles of roads, drilling test holes and acquiring samples. The company posted a $20,000 reclamation bond to cover the exploration.
“We just need to run some more tests to help supplement our mine permit application,” said Myron Andersen of Bar XX Environmental Services, which is managing permits for the project.
The state Department of Environment and Natural Resources is not likely to decide on a large-scale mining permit for at least a year.
The Deadwood Standard Project would be the first large-scale gold mine in South Dakota in 24 years. Supporters say it would create jobs and boost the economy.
Some environmental groups, cabin owners and a local branch of the Audubon Society oppose the mining exploration, fearing environmental harm including possible contamination to Spearfish Creek, a premier trout fishery.
The Sioux Falls-based Environmental Law and Policy Center also is monitoring the proposed project.
“There’s nothing about this that isn’t troubling,” said Matt McLarty, a policy advocate for the organization.