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Wharf gold mine to expand in Black Hills

PIERRE -- Goldcorp Inc. plans to mine at the old Golden Reward site in the Black Hills after acid-rock drainage is addressed, a company official said Thursday during a state Board of Minerals and Environment meeting.

Leakage appears to be happening where the cap over acidic rock meets a high wall at the West Liberty pit. Further tests are planned later this year.

Meanwhile mining by Goldcorp subsidiary Wharf mine is focused this year on the Green Mountain area at the Wharf site.

Mining at the American Eagle area of the Wharf mine was completed in 2012, Wharf environmental manager Ron Waterland told members of the state Board of Minerals and Environment.

His report on Wharf's activities was one of three sets of annual updates received by the board Thursday. Wharf is the only large-scale gold operation still under way in the Black Hills.

About 68,000 ounces of gold and about 236,000 ounces of silver were produced from the Wharf operation last year, according to Waterland.

He said Wharf paid about $8 million in state severance tax and about $1 million in sales taxes in 2012.

Homestake mine still has 12 employees and two contract workers on its payroll overseeing reclamation and water treatment for the shuttered mining complex and the old Richmond Hill mine that was operated by LAC Minerals.

Approximately 50 acres of the old Grizzly Gulch tailings area received new topsoil and was hydro-seeded last year, and another 40 acres there is scheduled for similar treatment this year, according to Homestake environmental manager Mark Tieszen.

He said Deadwood Creek showed no adverse effects from Homestake activities but the company has posted signs along the creek to discourage gold panning by amateurs and independent operators because it can affect water quality.

The one new operation that is proposed continues in preparation of its state mining-permit application.

The Deadwood Standard mine would be located along the east rim of Spearfish Canyon along U.S. Highway 14A on a line almost directly west of Lead.

The area was part of the Ragged Top mining district more than a century ago and many old mining features remain.

Myron Andersen is one of the consultants for the proposed mine. He said three sets of blasting tests were conducted in December. No vibrations could be felt at the nearest home and the blasts couldn't be heard in the canyon, he told board members.