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Public hearing set on proposed mining operation above Spearfish Canyon

Public hearing set on proposed mining operation above Spearfish Canyon

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Lawrence County Courthouse

Lawrence County Courthouse 

DEADWOOD | Lawrence County Commissioners voted Tuesday to set a 1:30 p.m. Nov. 10 public hearing on a conditional use permit for a proposed gold mining operation near Spearfish Canyon.

The Nov. 10 hearing location is yet to be determined. However, Planning and Zoning Director Amber Vogt suggested it could be held at The Lodge at Deadwood, the same location where the Planning and Zoning Commission met with a large group about the proposed mine last week.

At that meeting, the commission voted 5-0, with two abstentions, to recommend denial of the permit for the mine. Vogt told the County Commission that the space at The Lodge at Deadwood would provide for ample space for social distancing among a large crowd that would be expected for the next public hearing.

The conditional use permit was submitted to Lawrence County by Deadwood Standard Project/VMC, LLC. The site is located just above the east rim of Spearfish Canyon and northwest of the Wharf Mine.

Records show VMC, LLC is proposing a mine that would produce up to 870,000 tons of gold ore from 14 quarries ranging in size from half an acre to 5.2 acres. A permit for the Deadwood Standard mine was previously denied by Lawrence County in 2012 over "unanswered questions."

In the new permit application, VMC, LLC changed a bit of the operation where on-site processing of the mined material would not occur, but instead be moved to an off-site location.

The application does not disclose where the off-site processing facility would be located. VMC also included an environmental study on the impacts to water, the scenic views of Spearfish Canyon and noise pollution if the permit was granted.

Another study, prepared for a group called the Spearfish Canyon Owners Association and submitted to the Lawrence County Planning Commission, called into question the study by the mining company.

In other business, the County Commission approved setting another public hearing for a budgetary request to install ionizers into the county's HVAC system at the Lawrence County Courthouse, the County Annex building and the Public Safety Building.

According to documents, the ionizers are effective in reducing 99.4% of COVID-19 surface strains within 30 minutes. The cost for the system would be just over $31,000.

Lawrence County has already approved and appropriated their budget. The public hearing would seek authorization for the County Commission to amend the budget to include the cost of the new technology.

Contact Nathan Thompson at nathan.thompson@rapidcityjournal.com.

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