Plans for a huge gold mine near Kershaw have been delayed for at least a year because of the mine’s potential effect on creeks and wetlands that run through the site in Lancaster County.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will conduct an environmental impact statement before it decides on a wetlands permit for Romarco Minerals Inc., which wants to create the largest gold mine east of the Mississippi River.
Romarco has promised as many as 800 jobs associated with its gold mine in the economically depressed area between Columbia and Charlotte. But the mining operation would dig up or fill 162 acres of wetlands and more than seven miles of streams — an effect on the landscape not often seen in South Carolina.
“We feel like the project has actual or potential significance in a number of areas,’’ the Corps’ Richard Darden said Tuesday. “The proposed effects to waters of the U.S., which in this case includes streams and wetlands, will be significant in terms of the acreage’’ and miles.
Romarco planned to begin pouring gold bars by 2013, but the company now says the additional study is expected to delay plans by 12 months.
While company officials say they have already conducted thorough environmental studies and their plan minimizes impacts to the landscape, officials said this week they won’t fight the Corps’ push for a more extensive study.
“Disappointed? Yes,’’ Romarco’s chief executive, Diane Garrett, told shareholders this week. But she also said the delay will not be significant in the long run.
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