Commission Rejects Mine On Rim Of Spearfish Canyon

Nov 10, 2020

Mark Nelson of VMC at a previous planning and zoning meeting.
Credit Seth Tupper / SDPB

Lawrence County commissioners unanimously rejected a permit Tuesday for a gold mine near the rim of Spearfish Canyon.

Commissioner Brandon Flanagan said there are too many unknowns with the project, and although he supports mining, he could not approve the application.

“Normally, we get conditional-use permits and a lot of the detail is in there, as they’re supposed to be," Flanagan said. "In this one it’s a lot of just, ‘Permit what we’ve already got, and we’ll figure out the rest as we go.’ I’ve got a problem with that on a lot of levels.”

One missing detail is the ore-processing plan. The applicants from VMC LLC said they would process ore off-site, but they don’t know where yet.

Other points of contention are noise, potential water pollution in Spearfish Creek, potential damage to the canyon walls, and truck traffic.

The proposed location of the mine is just back from the canyon's eastern rim, high above Savoy.

The county commission heard several hours of testimony from the applicants and the public before voting 5-0 to reject the permit application. The county's planning and zoning board had previously recommended denying the permit.