The EPA is in Edgemont this week looking for possible locations for hearings on Powertech's permits before that agency, though the meetings have not yet been scheduled, Hollenbeck said.

The NRC is almost done with its permitting process, though people can still intervene after a permit is issued, he said.

"That will take all of the radiation issues off the table," Hollenbeck said of what has been the most contentious issue.

"Most of the opposition is opposition to nuclear power in general. That came out really loud and clear in the water hearing."

Hollenbeck, a former Edgemont mayor, and other supporters have said the mine would bring jobs to the area and tax revenue to the region and state. Opponents worry about possible harm to the environment.

In his order, Hagg rejected requests to deny or dismiss the mining permit that were filed by Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary and Clean Water Alliance but did grant its request to have the board wait until other permits were approved.

Rebecca Leas with Clean Water Alliance said she was stunned to learn of the delay but pleased because state law is very clear that the Board of Minerals and Environment can't act until all other entities do.

"A lot of people missed a lot along the way here," she said. "I think the board realized what legal problems they might be getting into by forging on."

Besides uranium, Powertech also wants to mine for vanadium, a strong metal resistant to shock and corrosion that's used in car parts, jet engines and cutting tools.

Powertech has a corporate office in Vancouver, British Columbia, and operations Colorado, Wyoming and New Mexico, as well as the Dewey Burdock project in South Dakota.

___

Online:

State law: http://bit.ly/17LcssA

NRC: http://1.usa.gov/18XnoPA

EPA: http://1.usa.gov/18XnOFN

DENR: http://1.usa.gov/18XnR4v

Powertech: http://bit.ly/18XneaZ

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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