LONGVIEW, Wash. (AP) — The U.S. Forest Service has consented to allow a Canadian company to conduct exploratory drilling for minerals as part of its effort to establish a hard rock mine near Mount St. Helens.

The Longview Daily News reported Thursday that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management will now have the final say on whether Ascot USA Inc.'s plans with happen.

With the bureau's approval, Ascot would be allowed to test drill at 63 roadside sites in the Green River watershed near Goat Mountain. The area is within the Mount St. Helens blast zone and just outside the northern border of the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument.

Exploratory drilling would determine if minerals are present in sufficient concentrations before any mine would be developed.