The Biden administration has moved closer to implementing a 20-year ban on mining in a South Dakota Forest Zone due to its proximity to cultural and natural resources.
In a joint announcement Friday, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the Forest Service said they would consider a 20-year setback of 20,574 acres located in the Black Hills National Forest near Pactola Reservoir and Basin. slope of Rapid Creek. The proposed action prohibits new mining claims and issuing new federal mining leases for two years while agencies review the proposal.
“Whether in northern Minnesota, southern Arizona, Alaska, or now South Dakota, these types of land restrictions imposed by the Biden anti-mining administration are hampering the national development of the minerals we need. needed for national defense, energy technology and everyday life,” Rep. Pete said. Stauber, R-Minn., the chairman of the House Natural Resources Energy and Minerals Subcommittee, told Fox News Digital.
“We need to use our resources that we have here with our workforce, not take them offline,” he continued.
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According to the announcement, the action could protect the drinking water supply for nearby Rapid City, South Dakota, and Ellsworth Air Force Base, from the adverse effects of mining exploration and development.
The two agencies will officially release the proposal on March 21, opening a 90-day public comment period during which stakeholders can weigh in on the action. Under federal law, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland is authorized to exempt public land from mining lease for up to 20 years.
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“The BLM is pleased to work with the USDA Forest Service on this effort,” BLM Director Tracy Stone-Manning said in a statement. “This proposal will help protect a primary source of drinking water for the people of South Dakota as the Forest Service assesses a 20-year withdrawal.”
“We will investigate the feasibility of removing land in the area because any activity that could affect these critical resources deserves careful consideration,” Forest Service Chief Randy Moore added.
The potential 20-year withdrawal comes amid a multi-year approval process for a gold exploration project in the area proposed by Minneapolis-based mining company F3 Gold. It also comes months after the Forest Service released a draft ruling allowing the company to explore on 3 acres and build infrastructure under several restrictions after extensive environmental review.
F3 Gold pledged not to extract water from the Rapid Creek watershed and not to use any hazardous chemicals, adding that it would ‘never start any project’ that poses risks to regional water sources . It has also made a series of land use and ecological stewardship commitments.
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The company said the so-called Jenny Gulch exploration drilling project would produce the precious metals needed to green energy technology such as solar panels and batteries for electric vehicles, aerospace equipment and telecommunications equipment.
“Gold is everywhere,” the company states on its website. “Due to its versatile properties, it is an essential component of technologies in nearly every economic sector in the United States, which makes it strategic and essential for our future.”
Additionally, several companies have expressed interest in conducting exploratory drilling in the area for lithium, another key component of electric vehicle batteries, and uranium, vital for zero-emission nuclear. Copper and silver deposits have also been discovered at Black Hills.
“While we agree that renewable energy is essential to combat climate change, we do not believe the Black Hills are a good location for new large-scale mines,” says the Black Hills Clean Water Alliance, a local environmental group, on its website. . “And mining is a major contributor to carbon emissions and climate change. The Black Hills are ecologically, culturally and historically unique and are the treaty homelands of the Lakota people.”
“The current local economy, which is based on agriculture, tourism and outdoor recreation, is much more prosperous than an economy based on mining and causes far less damage to land, wildlife and to the water of the region.”
On Friday, the BLM and Recognized forest service in their announcement that “the responsible development of national mineral supplies is important for the transition to a clean energy economy”, but said it was also important to protect natural resources.
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Overall, the United States produced about 170 metric tons of gold in 2022 despite its vast reserves of the precious metal, according to federal data. By comparison, China mined 330 metric tons of gold, surpassing the production levels of all other countries for the second consecutive year.
The International Energy Agency has repeatedly warned that aggressive green energy targets will only be achieved if nations shore up critical mineral supply chains. Green energy technologies like electric vehicle batteries, solar panels and wind turbines rely on lithium, cobalt, copper, nickel, graphite, zinc and precious metals like gold and silver.