Uranium Mining Debate
The State Water Management Board is considering a proposal by a uranium mining company to use water from a set of Black Hills aquifers. The state Board of Minerals and Environment has postponed its hearings on a contested uranium mine in the Southern Black Hills. Officials with the State Department of Environment and Natural Resources say the board will not rule on the application by Powertech Mining until other state and federal agencies have given approval. For Powertech to begin mining both the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency must give a green light and set regulations. Opponents of the Powertech mine claim the areas water resources are too few and precious to threaten with uranium mining. They argue that the massive quantities of water should not be used to generate profit for a foreign mining company. The mining company officials dispute these claims and point to the jobs and positive benefits the industry can bring to the area’s economy. Mark Hollenbeck, the project manager for Powertech Uranium, Corp. and Lilias Jarding, a spokeswoman for the Rapid City-based Clean Water Alliance, discussed the positives and negatives of the Powertech mine.