The Forest Service says a mining company can prospect for gold, copper and other minerals near Mount St. Helens. The agency said Tuesday that drilling planned by Ascot Resources 12 miles north of the volcano would not have a major impact on the environment of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest.
The drilling still needs approval from the Bureau of Land Management, which could weigh in later this week.
Once it has a permit, Ascot could begin drilling at 23 sites as soon as next summer. This allows exploration, but there's no approval yet to develop a mine.