Oct. 6th Deadline for Public Comment on the New Hard Rock Mining Ordinance

Remember that rivers and streams proceed downstream from the Black Hills and out to the Plains. We ALL share the responsibility to protect clean water.

The public comment period opened on July 8, 2019 thru October 6, 2019.  If you have a lengthy comment and attachments to submit please use the email at pcboc@pennco.org otherwise you can use their online form at https://www.pennco.org/index.asp?SEC=D3321D22-3F49-4FF9-9340-1996C4689769

Or you can mail to: Pennington County Commissioners, 130 Kansas City St., Rapid City, SD 57701. Feel free to give them a call at 605-394-2171.


An operator shall obtain a Hard Rock Mining Permit from Pennington County to extract any substance with economic value, whether organic or inorganic, that can be extracted from the earth, other than the following: (1) Sand, gravel, or rock to be crushed and used in construction; or, (2) Pegmatite minerals; or,(3) Limestone, iron ore, sand, gypsum, shale, pozzolan, or other materials used in the process of making cement or lime.

View full Ordinance

Here are some ideas on what to say:

  • The negative environmental and financial impacts of large-scale hard rock mining in the County would outweigh the positive impacts. Water is more valuable than gold in our semi-arid area.
  • The “Hard Rock Mining Ordinance” should favor recreation, agriculture, cultural/historical sites, and tourism over mining.
  • The Ordinance should state there is substantial consultation with Tribal Historic Preservation Officers
  • At least some public hearings on the proposed Ordinance should be held in the evenings and on weekends, so the general public can comment on the Ordinance.
  • The Ordinance should clearly state that the County can deny a mining permit application.

In the News:

News Center 1

Pennington County seeking public comment on proposed mining ordinance

Gold King Mine in Silverton, Colorado, where a toxic wastewater spill accidentally caused by EPA contract workers in August of 2015 contaminated rivers in three different states. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, File)

– Published July 11, 2019

Hard rock mines can have potentially devastating environmental and public health impacts when operations are not well-designed, managed or regulated. The EPA estimates that headwaters of more than 40 percent of the watersheds in the western U.S. have been contaminated by pollution from hard rock mines. There are about half a million abandoned mines across the country that will cost taxpayers between $32 and $72 billion to clean up, according to the National Wildlife Federation.

Conservation advocates like Dakota Rural Action say they would like the ordinance to specify that mining companies be responsible for reclamation bonds in the millions — citing the Gilt Edge Mine in Lead, a Superfund Site with a total clean-up cost estimated at over $200 million.

They’d also like the ordinance to ensure that there’s substantial consultation with Tribal Historic Preservation Officers and meaningful public comment periods before the mining project is permitted… read more

Rapid City Journal article:

Pennington County considers new mining ordinance

– Published March 19, 2019

Pennington County Board of Commissioners took another step toward regulating hard rock mining in the county.

On Tuesday during their regular meeting, the commissioners voted unanimously to support the creation of a hard rock mining ordinance but altered slightly from previous plans to form a committee to draft the regulations.

Hard rock mining is a generic reference to the various ways of excavating or extracting hard minerals or precious metals like gold, copper, zinc or nickel. It is different than soft rock mining, which extracts soft minerals like coal… read more.