KERSHAW — Romarco Minerals and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will do more tests next week on wells and groundwater at the Haile gold mine site in southeastern Lancaster County.
Corps officials requested additional testing to determine the effects of planned mining on nearby streams, wetlands and the water table.
Romarco plans to extract up to 125 tons of microscopic gold from eight pits on 4,231 acres at the site that gets it name from Col. Benjamin Haile, who successfully mined gold there in 1827.
Planned mining operations would last 12 years and could employ as many as 300 people a year, Romarco officials have said.
Efforts to reach Romarco officials were unsuccessful Thursday.
The digging of the pits from 110 feet to 840 feet would create lots of water that would need to be pumped out of the pits, said Richard Darden, project engineer for the Corps of Engineers.
The Corps is concerned about direct and indirect impacts of the water, Darden said. Some of the water pumped from the pits would be used in the mines processing plant, he said, but most of it would be released downstream.
The Corps is working on a draft environmental impact statement. Data from next weeks tests will be included in the statement, Darden said.
Because testing data is still being collected, the Corps has suspended its project schedule. The draft environmental impact statement had been scheduled for completion by December.
Darden said he hoped the draft environmental impact statement could be completed this year. Once it is completed, there will be a time for the public to review the statement and comment on it. A public hearing on the draft environmental statement is also required.
In its fourth-quarter and year-end financial statements, Romarco said some processing equipment has arrived at the mine site.
The company also announced it has modified the mine layout to reduce its impact on wetlands by 25 percent and its impact on streams by 32 percent. This was possible because Romarco bought more land, Darden said, allowing it to change the proposed layout of processing and storage facilities.
Romarco also said detailed project engineering for the gold mine was 86 percent complete at the end of last year.
No date has been announced for mine operations to begin. Before that can happen, the mine would need:
• Final approval from the Corps of Engineers
• A land use permit from Lancaster County
• Permits from the state Department of Health and Environmental Control for mine operations, air quality, solid waste disposal and stormwater
• National Pollution Discharge Elimination System permits for wastewater treatment and discharge, drinking water, mine reclamation and dam construction
• Federal permits for dredging and filling of wetlands, and wetland/stream mitigation.
Don Worthington • 803-329-4066