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Mineral Mountain Resources withdrew its request for a permit to use water from Rapid Creek for an exploratory gold drilling operation. 

The company that is searching for gold near Rochford is no longer seeking to pump water directly from Rapid Creek, because the company says it has made alternative arrangements.

On Monday, the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources said it had received a letter from Mineral Mountain Resources withdrawing the company's request for a temporary permit to use water from Rapid Creek.

The company drilled and plugged three holes in search of gold during February and March, while pulling 462,504 gallons of water from Rapid Creek to lubricate its drill.

The company plans to drill more holes, but its temporary permit to use water from Rapid Creek will expire Tuesday, and the company had applied for another temporary permit. That application had been deferred to the state Water Management Board, which will meet Wednesday and Thursday in Pierre. 

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Mineral Mountain's withdrawal letter now says the company “has made alternative arrangements for a water supply, and therefore hereby withdraws the pending request for a temporary water permit.”

The letter does not say what the alternative arrangements are, and company officials did not immediately respond to messages from the Journal. The company had approached the City of Keystone about buying water, but the minutes of that city's April 18 Board of Trustees meeting say the request was denied.

Mineral Mountain's drilling sites are in a historical gold mining area of the Black Hills near the small community of Rochford. The drilling project has drawn opposition from environmentalists, and from Native Americans who consider the Black Hills an important part of their traditional spirituality. Three members of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe have a pending court appeal against the project's exploratory permit.

To keep the public apprised of the Mineral Mountain Resources exploratory drilling project, DENR has created a web page at http://denr.sd.gov/mmexplore.aspx.

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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."