Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Another gold-drilling project proposed in Black Hills, this time near Spearfish Canyon

Mineral Mountain Resources
Mineral Mountain Resources
This file image shows a drilling rig in the Black Hills.

Another company wants to conduct exploratory drilling for gold in the Black Hills — and this time the drilling sites are near Spearfish Canyon.

The Black Hills National Forest announced Friday that Colorado-based Solitario Zinc Corp. plans to drill on national forest land southwest of Spearfish. The proposal is called the Golden Crest Exploration Drilling Project.

"Solitario possesses legal mining claims in this area and, under the General Mining Law of 1872, has a right to explore for sub-surface minerals on those claims," said a news release from the Black Hills National Forest. "The Forest Service must consider this plan of operations and determine the potential environmental impacts of the proposed action."

Solitario Zinc drilling map.JPG
Black Hills National Forest
U.S. Forest Service
A map of drilling sites proposed by Solitario Zinc Corp.

The news release said none of the proposed drilling sites are within Spearfish Canyon, but a map shows some of the 25 potential drill sites are just above the canyon and near the rim.

The project will extract core samples from deep in the earth. Each drill site will measure approximately 25 by 75 feet. Drill holes will be approximately 4 inches in diameter and drilled to a depth of 1,300 to 1,600 feet. Some drill sites could have up to four angled holes from the same site.

All sites would have to be reclaimed following drilling activities. The drilling would not start until the spring or summer of 2023 and would last about two years.

The proposal from Solitario Zinc Corp. continues a run of renewed interest in the gold-bearing potential of the Black Hills.

Recently, the Forest Service issued a draft approval for Minnesota-based F3 Gold to conduct exploratory drilling on national forest land near the Pactola Reservoir.

Another company, Canada-based Mineral Mountain Resources, has been conducting exploratory drilling near Rochford for several years.

Gold has been mined continuously in the Black Hills since the 1870s. The Homestake mine near Lead was the largest and deepest gold mine in North America before it closed in 2002.

There is currently one large-scale, active gold mine in the Black Hills — the Wharf Mine, also near Lead.

Open house scheduled, comment period open

  • A public open house regarding the Solitario Zinc drilling proposal is planned from 5 to 7 p.m. Mountain on Aug. 17 at the Black Hills State University Joy Center, 1351 St Joe St., Spearfish.
  • Comments on the Golden Crest Project can be submitted through the comment form on the project website, http://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=62590, and by clicking on the “Comment/Object on Project” link, which also includes more details about the proposed action.
  • Comments can also be submitted via mail to: Attn: Golden Crest Project, Northern Hills Ranger District, 2014 North Main St., Spearfish, SD 57783; or via fax at 605-642-4156.
  • The comment deadline is Sept. 2.