In January 2011, Haile Gold Mine, Inc. submitted an application for a Department of the Army permit to the Charleston District to fill wetlands and streams to open and operate Haile Gold Mine in Lancaster County, SC. Since the proposed project would impact nearly 162 acres of wetlands and 39,000 linear feet of streams, the District Engineer determined, on July 1st, 2011, that the preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) would be required for this project.
Since that time, the District has held an open commenting period for the public, as required by Corps regulations and the National Environmental Policy Act, and numerous federal and state agencies have reviewed and commented on the proposed project as well. The significance of the potential impacts associated with the proposed large-scale project, along with the recommendations from commenting agencies, led the District Engineer to determine that an EIS was the best course of action for the Haile Gold Mine project.
“There are significant social, economic and environmental impacts that would be associated with the project as it is currently proposed,” said Dr. Richard Darden, project manager. “We have worked closely with the applicant over the past year to evaluate their initial submission and environmental information. The initial review was helpful and led to the conclusion that, since the proposed project is likely to have significant impacts on the human environment, an EIS would best allow us to review these impacts prior to determining our final decision on the application.”
The EIS will allow the District to evaluate all aspects of the project in order to make a fair, balanced and flexible permit decision. It is the Corps’ duty, as the nation’s environmental engineer, to carefully weigh the benefits from the project against the detriments and base the final decision on the outcome of this balancing process. The District will consider everything from environmental impacts to job creation while evaluating alternatives that would avoid or minimize the impacts of the project. The District will work with the applicant along the way to modify their permit application in order to better protect the aquatic resources of South Carolina.
On October 27th, the District hosted a public scoping meeting at the Andrew Jackson Recreation Center in Kershaw, SC, near the proposed mine site. Approximately 200 people from across the state attended to learn more about the project and offer their valuable insight.
“It was great to see everyone who came out to offer their opinions on the proposed project,” added Darden. “Public input is extremely valuable to the District when we are making a permit decision. The attendees at the scoping meeting brought up a lot of good issues that we will look at and evaluate when we are going through our EIS process.”
After the successful public scoping meeting, the District will now put together a detailed timeline for the EIS process which could take a year or more. Once the draft EIS has been completed, it will be made available to the public. At that time, another public meeting will be held to allow comments on the draft EIS. For more information on the project, visit www.HaileGoldMineEIS.com.