Wisconsin’s Lieutenant Governor says worker safety is a priority at the Gogebic Taconite mine site in Iron County.
The company has drawn criticism for hiring military-style security guards armed with assault weapons to patrol the drilling area. Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch points out GTAC is working to bring jobs to the area.
“I think we have a duty to make sure that those folks, who are working to better that double digit unemployment rate that we talk so much about, are safe.”
Gogebic Taconite wants to build an open pit mine on the border of Iron and Ashland counties. Last month a small group of protesters vandalized the preliminary drill site. State Senator Bob Jauch of Poplar and Representative Janet Bewley of Ashland have written a letter to GTAC asking for the guards’ immediate removal. Bewley says the heavily armed presence is insulting to local law enforcement, and sends the wrong message to visitors and residents.
“This very bizarre, almost quasi-military subterfuge in the woods – is just not in keeping with the way we do things in the Northwoods.”
Bewley also notes the guards’ presence could damage tourism. GTAC could not be reached for comment, but told the Duluth News Tribune the guards are necessary to protect worker safety.