A cyanide leach gold mine, called the Deadwood Standard Project, has been proposed for development on the rim of Spearfish Canyon in the Black Hills of South Dakota. The mine would be located, in part, on lands designated by the State of South Dakota as Special, Exceptional, Unique or Critical.
Spearfish Canyon is a national treasure and vital to the local tourist economy. As stated in an editorial by the Rapid City Journal, “Quite literally, there is no other place like it on earth. With tourism the region’s largest industry, protecting Spearfish Canyon ought to be a priority.”
Local community members are opposed to the project, and concerned about the impacts of cyanide leach mining to Spearfish Creek – a prized trout stream. The County denied the companies application for a conditional use permit in 2012 until the State of South Dakota undergoes additional environmental analysis.
The track record of cyanide leach mining has not been good. South Dakota’s Wharf Mine, owned by Goldcorps, has a long history of cyanide spills and water quality violations. South Dakota’s Brohm (Gilt Edge) cyanide leach mine is now a major Superfund site, with severe acid mine drainage.