Minnesota company aims to explore gold in Black Hills Forest
RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) — A Minnesota company is preparing to conduct exploratory drilling for gold near Silver City in the Black Hills National Forest in South Dakota and two other companies have withdrawn bids to drill on forest land.
Forest Service officials are working on an agreement with Big Rock Exploration that would require the company to fund an environmental analysis, the Rapid City Journal reported.
Mark Van Every, Forest Service supervisor, said Big Rock Exploration wants to drill around 40 holes on national forest land. The proposed drill sites are near the west end of the Pactola Reservoir, in an area accessible by roads.
Federal mining statutes prohibit the Forest Service from rejecting an exploratory drilling project. The Forest Service, which oversees the surface rights, is only permitted to evaluate the project and place conditions on it. The agency will collaborate with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, which controls the mineral rights below the surface.
Van Every said Mineral Mountain Resources, a Canadian company that had been conducting exploratory drilling for gold on privately owned land in the Rochford area, suspended its plan to conduct additional drilling on national forest land in order to focus on fundraising efforts. Van Every also said that another company recently expressed interest in exploratory drilling in the Wyoming portion of the Black Hills National Forest, but the company decided against pursuing that project.
Gold exploration and mining have taken place in the Black Hills since the 1870s. The only active, large-scale gold mine in the Black Hills is the Wharf Mine, which is near Terry Peak.
Information from: Rapid City Journal, http://www.rapidcityjournal.com