State economy going underground

South Dakota State Roundup

Published September 1, 2007  | September 2007 issue

In July, Homestake Gold Mine in the Black Hills was selected as the site of the Deep Underground Science and Engineering Laboratory. The region expects an influx of scientists to study subatomic particles and anticipates significant federal funding. Some believe the nearby city of Lead could see development along the same lines as Los Alamos, N.M., a federal research center where the atomic bomb was born.

This year, the mine will be opened for the first time since its closure seven years ago. Pumps need to be activated to keep rising water levels in the mine below 5,000 feet, where an interim lab is expected to be constructed by 2008. Continued pumping would lower water levels so the main research center could be constructed at 7,400 feet underground, probably sometime in 2009, when a surface-level research center would also be built. All of this assumes that the National Science Foundation gives final approval to the project and Congress earmarks money for the lab.

Ronald A. Wirtz