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Gold mine plans spark concerns

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By Chris Sardelli

Intense disagreement over rezoning plans by Haile Gold Mine almost got one resident removed from the podium at Lancaster County Council’s Aug. 27 meeting. 

Danny Terry, who lives in the county’s Flat Creek community and has opposed the gold mine at several council meetings, returned to speak out against the mine’s operations in Kershaw.

Terry said he’s worried about the environmental and health impacts of the gold mine on surrounding residents. 

“They’re digging in our water supply every day,” Terry told council. “What’s going in our water supply? I don’t know.”

Terry was there to oppose several ordinances on council’s agenda, including one to rezone several properties near the mine from residential to heavy industrial. Those properties, owned by Haile Gold Mine Inc., are along Goldmine and Haile Gold Mine roads, as well as Jefferson Highway (S.C. 265) and Snowy Owl, Ernest Scott, Uriah and Enchantment roads. 

Terry and several other Kershaw residents have spoken out before in opposition to the rezoning plan. 

“There are things y’all are doing that we’ll reap for years. There are holes as big as craters like nuclear bombs were dropped there,” he said. “You people better wake up.”

After his allocated three minutes were up, Terry was also allowed to speak on the separate subject of a proposed smoking ordinance. 

“You are going to prevent a man from buying something that’s legal. You people spend hours on things like smoking. What in the world is wrong with you?” Terry asked.

But despite the new topic, Terry started talking about the gold mine again. 

“A year or so ago I learned where the community was getting wiped out,” he said. “Their heritage, their families are getting wiped out.”

Council Chairwoman Kathy Sistare interrupted Terry and asked him to stay on topic.

“If you’re talking about smoking, then talk about smoking. If you don’t want to, you can sit down,” Sistare said. 

Terry nodded, pretended to pull out a pack of cigarettes and asked Sistare, “You want a cigarette?”  

Sistare then turned toward Lancaster County Sheriff Barry Faile, who was in council chambers.

“Mr. Faile, have Mr. Terry sit down please,” Sistare said. Terry left the podium by himself. 

Fears of debris

Terry was not the only one to speak out in opposition of the gold mine. 

Flat Creek resident Jeff LeGrande worried about how much debris from mine activities would be dumped near his home. 

“Wouldn’t you hate this being a half-mile from your house?” LeGrande asked. 

He commented on the packed house full of Sun City Carolina Lakes residents who showed up at council’s meeting in support of creating a road into their community. 

“I wish Haile Gold Mine would move up to Indian Land because it looks like I’d have a lot of support,” LeGrande said. 

LeGrande also mentioned how difficult it is for him to assemble a similar crowd from the southern end of the county. 

“We can’t get a crowd because they’ve all been bought out. A lot of them did it because they don’t want to live near it (the mine), but a handful of us is going to stay,” he said. 

No development agreement

The second readings of two Haile Gold Mine ordinances returned to council’s agenda at the meeting. They included the rezoning ordinance and another to amend a fee-in-lieu of tax agreement between HGM and the county to include additional property.  

Both ordinances were on hold most of the summer pending the completion of a development agreement between the county and HGM. 

Layton Lord, attorney for Haile Gold Mine, told council that mine representatives eventually decided not to pursue the development agreement. 

“There was disagreement over the term and that was one of the reasons they took it off the table,” Lord said. “They’ve got too much going on to get done before the end of the year for a development agreement to slow us down.”

Council later voted 5-0 to approve both ordinances. Councilmen Rudy Carter and Jack Estridge recused themselves. 

Council also approved a resolution to allow Haile Gold Mine to remove and relocate the abandoned Leach Cemetery, by a vote of 5-0. 

Councilmen Carter and Estridge again recused themselves from the vote. 

Councilman Larry Honeycutt said HGM acquired the property in Flat Creek, 

located north of the mine facility, and the company has plans to relocate it to Sandhill Baptist Church.

“At the expense of Haile Gold Mine, they will move it and fence it in and it will be a beautiful place for the deceased,” Honeycutt said.

 

 Contact reporter Chris Sardelli  at (803) 416-8416