The Biden administration came close to imposing a 20-year mining ban on South Dakota’s forest zone due to its proximity to cultural and natural resources.
In a joint statement Friday, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the Forest Service said they would consider a 20-year take on 20,574 acres located in the Black Hills National Forest near the Pactola Reservoir and the Rapid Creek Watershed. The proposed action would bar new mining applications and the issuance of new federal mining leases for two years while the agencies review the proposal.
“Whether it’s northern Minnesota, southern Arizona, Alaska, or now South Dakota, these kinds of land restrictions by the anti-mining Biden administration are undermining domestic mining of the minerals we need for national defense, energy technology, and everyday life.” Rep. Pete said. Stauber, Minnesota, chairman of the House Subcommittee on Natural Resources, Energy and Minerals, told Fox News Digital.
“We have to use our resources that we have with our workforce, not turn them off,” he continued.
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According to the announcement, the action could protect the drinking water supply of nearby Rapid City, South Dakota, and Ellsworth Air Force Base from the adverse effects of mineral exploration and development.
The two agencies will formally release the proposal on March 21, opening a 90-day public comment period during which stakeholders can evaluate the action. Under federal law, Home Secretary Deb Haaland has the power to withdraw public lands from leases for up to 20 years.
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“BLM is pleased to partner with the USDA Forest Service on this front,” BLM Director Tracy Stone-Manning said in a statement. “This proposal will help protect South Dakota’s primary source of drinking water as the Forest Service estimates water withdrawals in 20 years.”
“We are going to explore the possibility of taking land in this area because any activity that could impact these critical resources deserves careful consideration,” said Forest Service chief Randy Moore.
The potential 20-year withdrawal comes amid a multi-year approval process for a gold exploration project in an area proposed by Minneapolis-based miner F3 Gold. It also comes a few months after the Forest Service released a draft decision allowing the company to explore the 3-acre area and build some infrastructure with a few restrictions after an extensive environmental review.
F3 Gold promised it would not take water from the Rapid Creek watershed or use any hazardous chemicals, adding that it would never “start with any project” that poses a risk to regional water sources. It has also taken on a number of land use and environmental responsibilities.
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The company said the so-called Jenny Gulch exploration drilling project will produce precious metals needed for clean energy technologies such as solar and electric vehicle batteries, aerospace equipment and telecommunications equipment.
“Gold is everywhere,” the company’s website says. “Due to its versatile properties, it is a vital component of technology in nearly every sector of the US economy, making it strategic and critical to our future.”
In addition, several companies have expressed interest in exploratory drilling in the area for lithium, another key component for electric vehicle batteries, and uranium, which is vital for zero-emission nuclear power. Copper and silver deposits have also been found in the Black Hills.
“While we agree that renewable energy plays a key role in combating climate change, we do not think the Black Hills is a good place for large new mines,” local environmental group Black Hills Clean says on its website. Water Alliance. . “And mining is a major contributor to carbon emissions and climate change. The Black Hills are ecologically, culturally and historically unique and are the treaty home of the Lakota people.”
“The current local economy based on agriculture, tourism and outdoor recreation is much more prosperous than the mining based economy and causes much less damage to land, wildlife and water.”
On Friday, BLM and the Forest Service acknowledged in a statement that “responsible development of domestic mineral resources is important for the transition to a clean energy economy,” but also said it was important to protect natural resources.
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Overall, the US produced about 170 metric tons of gold in 2022, according to federal data, despite huge reserves of the precious metal. In comparison, China mined 330 metric tons of gold, which is the second year in a row that it exceeds the production level of any other country.
The International Energy Agency has repeatedly warned that aggressive green energy targets will only be achieved if countries strengthen supply chains for critical minerals. Green energy technologies such as electric vehicle batteries, solar panels and wind turbines depend on lithium, cobalt, copper, nickel, graphite, zinc and precious metals such as gold and silver.