The heading is “F3 Gold’s Water Stewardship Plan” for the project they propose by the intake to Pactola Reservoir, the Jenny Gulch gold project. There is, of course, no “stewardship” when land is mined – the land and water are destroyed. But let’s look more closely at their plan, which includes five points.
POINT ONE: F3 says — “NO drilling in Minnelusa & Madison aquifers.”
WE SAY – This is apparently in response to concerns that gold activities would have impacts on the Minnelusa and Madison aquifers, which are key water sources for Rapid City and other area communities. While the company’s current plan doesn’t include drilling into these aquifers, they could still be impacted by gold activity. This is especially true if this F3 project leads to gold mining – which is, after all, the goal of drilling for gold.
The reason is that water in the drainage area they want to drill goes into Rapid Creek, which supplies water to Rapid City and surrounding areas. And Rapid Creek supplies water to the Minnelusa and Madison aquifers through cracks and crevasses in the rock. If there is a spill from gold drilling or mining, it could easily flow into Rapid City’s water supply both through the aquifers and through surface water. The graphic below shows the process by which this could happen.
Note that we referred to “this F3 project.” They also have a number of gold mining claims just west of Custer known as the Newark Project. The company has asked the Forest Service for permission to explore on these claims, too.
POINT TWO: F3 says – “NO extraction from Rapid Creek Watershed.”
WE SAY – The Rapid Creek watershed feeds water into Rapid Creek, and the area where F3 wants to explore is in that watershed. Any water (and whatever is in it) that ends up on the ground or in the waters of the Rapid Creek watershed could end up in the Creek and in Rapid City’s water supply. The company plans to drill by extracting samples of underground rock and checking them over to see if gold is present. So this is definitely extraction from the Rapid Creek watershed.
POINT THREE: F3 says – “No hazardous chemicals or toxic substances.”
WE SAY – This point is flatly untrue. The company does not plan to run drilling rigs and pickup trucks on solar power. They will run on gasoline or a similar fuel. This is a toxic substance. It only takes a drop of petroleum or gasoline to pollute 100 liters of clean water.
If their exploration led to gold mining – again, which is the goal – modern gold mining uses cyanide to leach gold out of the ore. Toxic arsenic and heavy metals are often byproducts. Heavy metals from past gold mining in the northern Black Hills can be found in the Cheyenne River all the way to the Missouri River – about 170 miles away from the mining.
POINT FOUR: F3 says – “Clean potable H2O from municipal source.”
WE SAY – We think what F3 Gold is saying here is that they would use clean, drinkable, municipal water to meet their drilling needs.
While this is better than using dirty water, let’s think this through for a minute. Municipal, potable water is water that has been treated for human consumption. We live in a semi-arid region. Using human drinking water for gold exploration is not the best use of this limited resource. It would be better to use some human drinking water for humans, protect the rest of the water for future use, and skip the gold drilling.
Plus, let’s not forget the last time a gold company was transporting municipal water by truck from Lead, SD to their drilling site in the central Black Hills. Their truck crashed, and their entire load of water rolled off the truck and ended up in Rapid Creek. Thank goodness it was just water they release into the creek. Think about what could happen if there’s mining and they’re transporting cyanide.
POINT FIVE: F3 says — “Used water is monitored & recycled.”
WE SAY – This statement makes little sense. F3 Gold can’t “recycle” all the water it uses in its drilling operation, because some of it will become contaminated and need to be disposed. Also, while it’s reassuring to think that someone will be “monitoring” water use, it’s unclear who this will be. The State of South Dakota and the US Forest Service would technically be responsible for this, but only check on operations periodically. The vast majority of the time, the only ones who will be “monitoring” water use are company employees or contractors. This is far from reassuring.
So that’s what we make of “F3 Gold’s Water Stewardship Plan.” If they really love the Black Hills as much as they say they do, then they will go home to Minneapolis, drop plans to drill here, and close the door on future destructive mining.
For more information on what you can do go to:
For information about “this F3 Gold project” go to the Forest Service link HERE.