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Two bentonite mines proposed

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Posted: Monday, October 21, 2013 4:02 pm

BELLE FOURCHE — A Wyoming company has applied for a mining permit with the South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources, but due to incomplete information it has yet to be approved.

If granted, the permit would allow Bentonite Performance Minerals to establish two mines northwest of Belle Fourche in Butte County, which would be known as the Purple Mine and the Killinger Mine.

 “We received both applications and because they were incomplete we’ve sent them back to the company, so we’ve sent a response letter informing them of what we need from them, and now we’re just waiting to hear back from them,” said Eric Holm, the natural resources project engineer with the DENR.

But, it may be an upward of four months before a final decision would be made, due to the permit process itself and the possibility the proposed mining permits are contested by area residents.

Both located about six miles from the community, the Purple Mine will cover approximately 30 to 40 acres during its life span. The Killinger Mine will cover approximately 29 acres during its life span and is located six and one-half miles northwest of Belle Fourche.

Bentonite Performance Company is a third tier subsidiary of Halliburton and began it’s company 1928 near Osage, Wyo. It began its bentonite production 1947 with the construction of a new processing plant in Colony, Wyo.

Holm said that if the company submits a complete application and receives DENR approval after they review the information and conduct a bond calculation, they would either recommend or deny the permit request be filed, which will provide the public 90 days to file an intervention to schedule a hearing contesting the request. If a hearing must be scheduled, it would be held before the state Board of Minerals and Environment, the governing body responsible for promulgating and enforcing rules and issuing permits.

“If there is no intervention, they won’t go through the board of minerals and the permit will be approved after the 90-day period,” Holm said. “If there is a hearing, it could take about a month longer.”

According to the DENR notification published in mid-September after Bentonite Performance Minerals submitted their application, the operation would include establishing several small pits that will be mined using cut and fill mining methods. Then the topsoil, subsoil, and overburden will be stripped and stockpiled, or used to backfill and topsoil previously mined pits.

Bentonite will be hauled from each pit along existing haul roads to Bentonite Performance Mineral’s processing plants in Colony, Wyo.

Reclamation will be conducted during the mining operation and the land will be reclaimed, as rangeland, once mining is complete.

Holm said that as far as a timeframe, the DENR is just waiting for the company to submit a complete application.

To view the application, go to the Minerals and Mining website at Heather Murschel contributed to this report.

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