A hearing scheduled next week in Rapid City on a proposed uranium mine near Edgemont has been delayed. And it could be delayed until next year.
Two federal agencies and another state board will have to decide whether to issue permits in order for this process to move forward. It's the second Rapid City permit hearing for Powertech Uranium Corp.'s application for a mine in this area called Dewey Burdock near Edgemont.
Hearing chairman Rex Hagg says the board won't reschedule the state hearing until the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rule on the project and establish financial surety. He says the state Water Management Board also must first allocate water rights.
Uranium mining opponents like Clay Uptain, chair of the Black Hills Chapter of Dakota Rural Action, says they are grateful the mining board has made a decision to listen to the citizens of the state of South Dakota. He says there are significant issues at the federal level that have yet to be resolved, however, he says they do consider this a victory.
"We do and we are pleased and we understand that it is not over. We have to continue our efforts to protect the Black Hills from the proposed mining but we do think that it is a positive thing for us at this point," said Uptain.
Mark Hollenbeck, the project manager for the proposed mine, says he's disappointed by the delay. He issued this statement:
"Powertech has received the notice from Chairman Hagg which is an indication of the close scrutiny that board wishes to review the proposal . We know that the NRC license is forthcoming in the next couple months and that will give the state footing to act upon. Chairman Hagg also rejected the motions of the WHS and CWA for denial or dismissal. He also stated in his order that Powertech could expect a prompt review and hearing upon the issuance of the federal license and permits. We look forward to the resumption of the hearing at that time."
The state Board of Minerals and Environment (BME) has postponed next week's scheduled contested case permit hearings involving Powertech (USA) Inc.'s application for a large scale mine permit.
The second of two weeks of hearings were scheduled to be held Nov. 11-15 in Rapid City. The first week of hearings was held Sept. 23-27.
No dates have been set to continue the hearings.
The Order issued on Tuesday postponing next week's hearings says the board will not continue its hearings until the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have ruled and set the federal surety, and the state Water Management Board has decided the water rights. The Order further states that until those areas are completed "…the BME cannot conditionally approve the permit and fulfill its statutory duties."
Powertech needs several local, state and federal permits before proposed in situ uranium mining can begin near Edgemont in southwestern South Dakota.