RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) — A company interested in an abandoned South Dakota mine acknowledged that reopening the site could disturb areas that have been reclaimed as part of a $120 million federal cleanup project over nearly two decades.

The Gilt Edge Mine in the Black Hills still needs an estimated $88 million worth of reclamation work, The Rapid City Journal reported .

U.S. Exploration Manager Gregg Loptien of Agnico Eagle Mines said it's unclear if existing reclamation work would be undone by re-mining the site. But the Canada-based company would take over responsibility of the cleanup if it decides to reopen the mine and receives the necessary permitting to do so, Loptien said.

"We've got a lot of questions to answer for ourselves before we ever even make a decision to do anything out here," he said.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency worked out a deal with Agnico last year to let the company drill up to 18 holes around the site in order to help the agency find the source of toxic cadmium contamination in Strawberry Creek. In exchange, Agnico could then analyze core samples to determine if there is enough recoverable gold to reopen the site.

Mining at the site began in 1876 and continued until 1999. The mine's previous operator, Brohm Mining, abandoned the mine when its parent company, Dakota Mining, declared bankruptcy.

Pits at the site were left with 150 million gallons of acidic water that had contaminants such as lead and arsenic. The EPA added the mine to its National Priorities List in 2000. Studies and cleanup work have since been ongoing at the now primarily state-owned site. Only about 50 million gallons of acidic water remain.

Additional work at the site could take eight to 10 years depending on funding, said Joy Jenkins, an EPA official.

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Information from: Rapid City Journal, http://www.rapidcityjournal.com