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Drilling near Pe’Sla resumes

By Talli Nauman

Native Sun News Today

Health & Environment Editor


ROCHFORD – Canadian gold prospectors expected to resume drilling operations near here and the Indian trust land of Pe’ Sla during the week of May 6, they said in a media advisory.

Their announcement came May 3, following their assertion that they have secured a source of water unregulated by the South Dakota state public hearings and monitoring process.

“Nine (9) additional drill holes are planned to resume next week,” said the advisory from the Vancouver, British Columbia-based Mineral Mountain Resources Ltd.

The company had been operating on its second consecutive state permit to use 1.8 million gallons of Rapid Creek water. It shut down operations in April after its heavy machinery and its truck traffic made U.S. Forest Service roadway impassable. The permit expired April 30.

By then company contractors already had drilled three of the 120 holes permitted by the South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources, or DENR.

Analysis showed “classic Homestake-style gold mineralization in all three drill holes,” the advisory said. Curt Hogge, chief geologist for the company, said the core sampling from the third hole, “from a visual standpoint, looks as good as any hole that I have logged in the Rochford District during my career in the Black Hills spanning over 30 years.”

In that hole, the prospectors found a nearly 100-foot stretch of rock sample, ending at a drilling distance of 600 feet from surface, that has the characteristics of the ore that led to the largest gold operation in the hemisphere at the defunct legendary Homestake Mine, some 16 miles to the north in Lead.

Contractors left their skidder in the woods and shut down operations in April after their heavy machinery and their truck traffic made U.S. Forest Service roadway impassable.
Credit: COURTESY / John Hopkins

A comparison of samples from the second and third hole presents a “dramatic increase” in indicators of high quality gold, which makes the Rochford lode a “compelling target” for further exploration, Hogge said.

The mining company has state permission to drill as far as 5,000 feet on each hole in its 7,500-acre block of claims in Pennington and Lawrence counties. The initial work has been in the vicinity of the historic former Standby Mine.

The company’s wholly owned South Dakota subsidiary withdrew its application for a third consecutive 1.8-million-gallon temporary water-use permit when the DENR agreed to a public hearing on it.

The withdrawal letter states Mineral Mountain Resources Ltd. “has made alternative arrangements for a water supply, and therefore hereby withdraws the pending request for a temporary water permit.”

The state had granted the hearing in response to requests from the Pennington County Board of Commissioners and interested individuals.

The two previous state water permits were without hearings, which the DENR says are at its discretion when mining exploration is involved.

“Without a temporary water permit to divert or draw surface or groundwater, DENR no longer has authority to regulate their use of water obtained or purchased from other permitted sources,” state Minerals and Mining Engineer Roberta Hudson said in a May 4 letter.

The town of Keystone denied Mineral Mountain Resources Ltd.’s request to buy bulk water for the Rochford prospecting following a drilling water spill some years back that violated the company’s state permit for its now abandoned exploration project at the Holy Terror Mine site close to Keystone.

The town of Custer has not received or granted a water request to the company, Mayor Corbin Herman told the Native Sun News Today. The Lead Deadwood Sanitary District hasn’t either, according to District Manager Terry Wolterstorff.

“We very definitely have not been contacted at all,” he said in a telephone interview May 4. In the only other nearby Black Hills municipal water supply system, Hill City Alderman Jim Peterson told the Native Sun News Today he was not aware of any such request, which would need to be approved by the city council.

None of the rest of the city council members responded to inquiries, and neither did the mayor. Hill City Administrator Brett McMacken and Finance Officer Carla Sheldon both had a “no comment.”

None of prospectors’ representatives in South Dakota or Canada has responded to Native Sun News Today inquiries.

(Contact Talli Nauman at

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