Rapid City Council passes resolution opposing gold exploration in Rapid Creek

At the Rapid City Council meeting Monday, exploratory gold drilling was the hot debate of the night. (KOTA)

RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - With a resolution about exploratory gold drilling on the table, it was a long ongoing hot debate Monday night at the Rapid City Council meeting. The council finally passing the resolution with a vote of 6-4.

It was a crowded room at city hall with 31 people requesting to speak on the controversial issue. Rapid city council members agreed to change the normal rules for citizen input and let each side speak for 10 minutes to help condense time.

A resolution opposing exploratory gold drilling in the Rapid Creek was up for discussion.

Some people argued that if the council allows drilling this could more than likely lead to gold mining. Arguing for the resolution, people pointed out that toxins, like cyanide, when mining could end up in the Rapid Creek and end up contaminating the drinking water supply.

But culture was another issue brought up in the argument. A man from the Ogala Sioux Tribe traveled from Pine Ridge to discuss how drilling and mining is disturbing sacred lands.

"Water is the first medicine that exists. Without water nothing can live. They can be no life without water. And underneath the sacred Black Hills
is the aquifer that feeds millions and millions of people," Dennis Yellow Thunder said.

Yellow Thunder is a member of the Black Hills Forest Advisory Board and a member of the Black Hills Clean Water Alliance group.

However, some former miners and School of Mines and Technology professors feel the resolution is disrespectful to the mining industry as well as the educators' expertise.

Several people argued there are acts like the General Mining Act of 1872 and the Clean Water Act, which was passed in 1972 and has been amended twice since then, which were put in place to help monitor mining-related activities to help protect the environment.

"All mining is not bad. Mining contributes to employment, taxes, and economic benefits in the community. Mining is necessary for our quality of life and our standard of living," School of Mines and Technology MS Mineral Economics Professor Mark Bowron said.