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Spearfish Canyon gold mine permit decision delayed by months

DEADWOOD (AP) -- Lawrence County commissioners likely will not decide for more than a year whether to grant a permit for a proposed gold mine near Spearfish Canyon in the Black Hills.

The commission decided Tuesday after five hours of testimony from people on both sides of the issue to wait for a report from the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources. The state review is expected to take at least 14 months, according to the Rapid City Journal.

Partners in the proposed Deadwood Standard Project were hoping to secure the county permit before beginning the long and expensive process of getting approval from the state's Board of Minerals and Environment, which is advised by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

"We were hoping to have a sort of head nod from the county before we did that," partner Mark Nelson said.

The proposed mine between the city of Lead and scenic Spearfish Canyon is opposed by environmentalists and homeowners in the area who fear harm to water sources.

"If you grant this permit, you are gambling," opponent Dick Fort told the commission, the media reported. "You are gambling at very poor odds with a precious and irreplaceable resource."

Supporters of the project say it would create jobs and boost the economy.

"In order to be able to provide for his family and my grandchildren, (my son) had to move to Elko, Nev.," supporter Janet Founder said. "I think we really need to look at this and support this project and bring better economic development here."