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Company to drill explore holes for lithium near Keystone

Midwest Lithium logo
Midwest Lithium logo

A mining company says it’s going to drill dozens of holes near Keystone to search for a lithium-bearing mineral called spodumene.

The move comes as the Black Hills are seeing an increase in claims for lithium and other minerals.

The company, SDO Services, which is a subsidiary of Midwest Lithium, plans to drill 55 holes across 11 pads. Each pad will measure approximately 50 by 70 feet. The surface area of the pads must be flat so the drill can get the three-inch core sample.

The exploration site is located on private land two miles northwest of Keystone near the old Ingersoll Mine.

Officials with the company will fill the holes once they’ve taken the core sample and reclaim the site.

“And, within a period of time, hopefully you’ll never know we were there. Then, we take a look at the core and try to understand the minerology of the core," Michael Schlumpberger, general manager for Midwest Lithium, said. "The truth of the matter is we might come in a decide we want to do more core drilling and so we’d apply for another permit, look at additional core drilling, and try to understand what the geology looks like underground.”

Midwest Lithium’s move to drill core samples comes during a push to explore for various minerals in the Black Hills.

Demand for lithium has increased and seen as a key element in the transition to green energy. The Biden Administration has indicated it wants to see the minerals mined domestically.

Lilias Jarding, president of Black Hills Clean Water Alliance, said the public must get involved if it’s concerned about increased mining activity.

“With the federal administration pushing lithium mining for electric cars the public, here, needs to really speak out if they don’t want to have lithium mines all along 385 and by Mount Rushmore and near Hill City and Keystone," Jarding said.

Midwest Lithium is finalizing its drilling campaign specifics and hopes to start soon. They say they anticipate drilling for about two to three months.

Lee Strubinger is SDPB’s Rapid City-based news and political reporter. A former reporter for Fort Lupton Press (CO) and Colorado Public Radio, Lee holds a master’s in public affairs reporting from the University of Illinois-Springfield.