RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) — The Rapid City Council heard pro and con arguments about the safety and environmental impact of gold exploration and gold mining, then voted 6-4 in favor of a resolution opposing gold exploration in the Rapid Creek watershed.
Last night’s vote ensured that a resolution could be delivered to the U.S. Forest Service by this week’s deadline to submit written comment on the mining applications.
F-3 GOLD of Minnesota is interested in gaining permits to explore around Pactola near Silver City. Mineral Mountain Resources of Canada had previously started some exploration on private land near Rochford as well.
The resolution was from a clean-water advocacy group called Pactola Protectors, who pointed out the scarcity of water resources in the west, and the past pollution caused by mining in the Black Hills.
Miners and mining experts at last night’s meeting, as a group, were offended by the resolution and the way it was brought to the meeting after quick approval at last week’s Legal and Finance Committee meeting. Darsey Baker summed up the mood of the mining supporters.
Andrea Brickee, a mining instructor at the School of Mines, told aldermen that modern mining is always ahead of the cutting edge in technology and skill.
Matthew Minnick studied at S-M-T and Colorado Mines. He urged the council to trust trained experts and established law in mining matters.
Mark Bowron of the School of Mines said regulation processes are meant to be what protects the public, and that they work and should be followed.
Former Rapid City Mayor Jerry Munson raised a host of questions, speaking in support of the resolution against gold mining.
Ward Five council member Darla Drew says that local residents have a long memory about bad mining sites in the Black Hills.
Ward One council member Lisa Modrick said the council’s vote should reflect not just science, but the desire of city residents to have their water sources protected.
Aldermen defeated an alternate motion to delay for two weeks, then defeated a tabling motion, and finally approved the resolution on a 6-4 split vote.