Pactola and Black Elk Wilderness targets now

Recent development – Disclaimer: CWA received information from Seth Tupper, reporter for the Rapid City Journal, that the Bureau of Land Management (which manages mining claims) told him that there are not actually mining claims in the Black Elk Wilderness Area. There was apparently a clerical error at the BLM and has been confirmed in an email from the BLM.

Watch our Facebook page for immediate updates and published articles.

Clean Water Alliance’s research has confirmed that F3 Gold, which is working with Big Rock Exploration, has mining claims in the Black Elk Wilderness Area, which is protected from mining under several Congressional acts, including the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty and the 1964 Wilderness Act.  The sections that include claims are the sites of 16 active mining claims.  The sections also include Black Elk Peak and portions of the north and south trails to the Peak.

By federal law, mineral claims are generally not permitted in wilderness areas.  It is unclear why these claims were allowed to be filed and are categorized as “active.”  The wilderness area is spectacular for its forest and its vistas.  Black Elk Peak is both the highest point east of the Rocky Mountains and a site that holds deep cultural and historical importance for the Lakota people.  It is special for people of all backgrounds and a commonly-visited tourist location.  Its high ridges form the centerpiece when viewing the Black Hills across miles of the Great Plains.

“This area was designed to be off-limits for mining, exploration, or any mechanized activity, by federal law,” said Lilias Jarding, President of Clean Water Alliance.  “Federal officials should immediately act to protect our national treasure by retracting these claims and to protect, as mandated under law, the impressive cultural and scenic properties of this area – as well as the multi-million dollar tourism economy that goes with it.”

F3 Gold also has claims that are located directly upstream from Pactola Lake in the Silver City area, as are two proposed exploratory drilling sites.  Claims stretch along all four sides of the Lake, with the sections that include claims along the north side directly abutting the lake.  Lake Pactola supplies Rapid City’s water, both directly and through leakage that feeds the Minnelusa and Madison aquifers.  Any spill from exploratory drilling – or a potential mining project – in this close proximity to the Lake directly threatens those water supplies.

The Black Hills National Forest is considering at least one application for exploratory drilling from F3 Gold by Silver City.  It is also considering two other applications for exploratory drilling, the details of which it has kept a secret so far.  These could be from one of the companies known to be active in the central Black Hills, or they could be from another company.

F3 Gold and Big Rock Exploration share the same President, although both are registered separately with the Secretary of State.  Claims have been filed under the name F3 Gold. 

“People need to voice their opposition to toxic mining now and reject this company’s activities – both at Pactola and at Black Elk Wilderness Area,” said Carla Marshall, Clean Water Alliance Board member.  “We need to protect our water and land at all cost for future generations.”