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COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has released its long-awaited draft environmental impact statement on plans to reopen a gold mine in Lancaster County.

The review is part of the process to permit mining operations at the 4,500-acre Haile site northeast of Kershaw.

The study says the project would directly affect 120 acres of wetlands. Mine operators have proposed reducing the impact by protecting 4,300 acres in both the Wateree and Lynches rivers watersheds. The mine operator has proposed an endowment of $9 million to the state Department of Natural Resources Heritage Trust Program.

The study found more than $1 billion would be spent developing and operating the mine during the 15 years it's expected to be in operation. A public hearing on the study will be held next month.

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