RAPID CITY (AP) - South Dakota's Water Management Board has approved a temporary water permit for an exploratory gold drilling project in the Black Hills despite opposition from Native American tribal officials and environmental groups.

The Rapid City Journal reports that the board's approval clears the way for Mineral Mountain Resources to withdraw water from Rapid Creek through Dec. 31 to lubricate the drill it's using near Rochford.

The board partially based its decision on information provided by Mark Rath, a state engineer. Rath says there's sufficient water in the creek to get through the end of the year.

The board received permit comments from 15 opponents.

The Canadian company is drilling to determine whether there's enough recoverable gold for a mining operation. Mineral Mountain has drilled nine holes and has permission to drill about 100 more.