Home Campaigns Homestake mine Mine transfer progresses slowly

Mine transfer progresses slowly

Mine transfer progresses slowly

by Bill Harlan, Rapid City Journal
The transfer of the Homestake gold mine in Lead to the South Dakota Science and Technology Authority is taking longer than expected, authority director Dave Snyder said Wednesday.

?Taking this mine over isn?t a small task,? Snyder said.

Still, Snyder is working to complete the deal before Jan. 1.

Homestake owner Barrick Gold Corp. of Toronto has agreed to donate the giant mine, which is closed, for use as an underground research laboratory.

State officials originally predicted the property transfer would be complete by mid-month. Land surveys and deeds for the underground mine and about 165 surface acres are complete, Snyder said, but reviewing those documents has been time consuming.

Other details ? including such items as transfer of keys to buildings and making snow-removal plans ? also are taking more time than expected.

Snyder plans to move the state Science and Technology Authority office from Rapid City to a Homestake building in Lead in January. ?But first, we?ll have to do some remodeling,? he said.

The Homestake gold mine and the Henderson molybdenum mine in Colorado are the National Science Foundation?s two finalist sites for a proposed national Deep Underground Science and Engineering Laboratory, or DUSEL.

Henderson is a working mine, so, unlike Homestake, it is already accessible. Homestake is closed, but it?s 8,000 feet deep. The DUSEL proposed for Homestake?s 7,400-foot level would be the deepest lab in the world. Deep mines shield sensitive experiments from cosmic radiation.

Opening a national laboratory is a long process that requires approve from the NSF, the White House and Congress. A DUSEL might not be ready for experiments until 2012 or later.

Gov. Mike Rounds has a faster plan. He hopes to attract experiments to a state-owned ?interim DUSEL? at the 4,850-foot level at Homestake. Experiments at the interim lab could begin as soon as 2007.

Rounds and other Homestake advocates, including physicists working with the state, say the interim lab could help persuade the NSF that Homestake is the best location for DUSEL proper.

Snyder said Wednesday that since October, when the Legislature approved the governor?s plan, the science authority had received more than 50 ?letters of interest? about the interim lab. Those letters represent more than 70 universities and laboratories in six countries, Snyder said. He called the response ?pretty phenomenal.?

In October, the Legislature also approved $19.9 million to help re-open Homestake and make it ready for scientists. That money will pay for an additional 9.3 ?full-time equivalent? employees that the state science authority hopes to hire in the coming year.

The first new employee will be a project engineer, Snyder said. He hopes to fill the position in January.

Contact Bill Harlan at 394-8424 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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