A Canadian company announced Thursday that it will soon resume its search for gold near Rochford in the Black Hills, although the project manager said the company is still making arrangements for a water source.

Mineral Mountain Resources said in a news release that it plans to drill the remaining nine holes of a 12-hole exploratory drilling project within the next week.

During February and March, the company drilled three holes to a combined depth of about 4,300 feet in the area of the historical Standby Mine near Rochford, about 35 miles west of Rapid City.

Since then, the company has paused its drilling project. The project manager, Kevin Leonard, told the Journal that the company has repaired ruts and other damage caused by the project’s usage of Bloody Gulch Road. The company has a permit to use the Forest Service road and is required to repair it at the company's own expense.

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During drilling, water is used to lubricate the drill. For the first three holes, Mineral Mountain drew water from Rapid Creek, near the drilling site, under the terms of a temporary water permit from the South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources. That permit expired May 1, and the company applied for another permit but ultimately withdrew the application and said it would make other arrangements for water.

Thursday, in a phone interview with the Journal, Kevin Leonard, the project manager for Mineral Mountain, said those arrangements are still pending.

Also pending is a court challenge to the validity of the project’s exploratory drilling permit from state government. That appeal was filed in February by several Native American tribal members who said they want to protect the Black Hills, which hold spiritual significance for many tribes, from being environmentally damaged by exploratory drilling and potential mining. The appeal has so far had no apparent effect on Mineral Mountain, which continued its initial drilling efforts after the appeal was filed.

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Contact Seth Tupper at seth.tupper@rapidcityjournal.com

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Enterprise Reporter

Enterprise reporter for the Rapid City Journal and author of "Calvin Coolidge in the Black Hills."