PIERRE | A second state panel has delayed hearings on a proposed uranium mine in the Black Hills until two federal agencies decide on the project.

The South Dakota Water Management Board on Monday postponed its second week of hearings scheduled for the week of Dec. 9 in Rapid City.

The Board of Minerals and Environment earlier delayed its second round of hearings on Powertech Uranium Corp.'s application for a mine near Edgemont.

Both state boards say they'll reschedule after the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Environmental Protection Agency rule on the project and establish what sort of bonding the company will have to post to cover and clean-up costs.

The proposed Dewey-Burdock mine, which would be about 15 miles northwest of Edgemont, would employ in-situ mining — meaning the company would inject oxygenated water into the ground to absorb uranium. The water would then be pumped back to the surface, where the uranium would be extracted and processed.

Opponents worry the mine could drain or pollute the region's aquifers and damage the region's tourism industry; proponents say it can be done safely and will bring jobs to the region and tax revenue to the state.

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The Water Management Board says the delay was in response to a request from Powertech and other parties. The panel must decide whether to grant water rights permits and a groundwater discharge plan.

The state Board of Minerals and Environment announced in early November it was postponing its hearings. For the project to go forward, that board must approve a large-scale mining permit for the company.

Contact Joe O'Sullivan at 394-8414 or joe.osullivan@rapidcityjournal.com

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