Fifteen Extra Holes
3:56 pm
Fri January 3, 2014

GTac Applies for More Exploratory Drilling

Gogebic Taconite wants to drill more exploratory holes in the Penokee Hills this winter.  The mining company has applied for a permit to drill an additional 15 holes. 

Gogebic Taconite has proposed drilling 15 exploratory holes in Iron and Ashland counties.
Gogebic Taconite has proposed drilling 15 exploratory holes in Iron and Ashland counties.
Credit Natalie Jablonski / WXPR News

The holes would be about 2 and a half inches in diameter, with depths ranging from 280 feet to almost 1500.   GTac drilled eight similar holes last summer.    DNR mining project lead Larry Lynch says these holes would be in different areas of the Penokee Range.

“What they’re proposing to do with this application is to drill holes that are in areas of softer ground, and basically at lower elevation – drill those holes in the winter, when the roads are essentially frozen.” 

The company plans to use existing roads to access the sites, but some are unpaved and cross wetland drainage areas.

DNR mining project lead Larry Lynch says there are a number of reasons the company might want to drill more holes in preparing its iron mining plan.    

“The core that you obtain from that process can be used for a number of different things.  It can be used to gain a better understanding of the geology, it can be used for furthering your information and understanding of mineral grades.”

Lynch says core samples could also inform how the company plans its waste disposal process. 

Applying for the permit costs just 300 dollars, but the company must also pay for reclamation of the drill sites.  The DNR has until January 16th to respond.  

If the new drilling is approved, public access will be restricted to 600 feet away from the sites, under a law passed late last year.  Gogebic Taconite has also applied for a stormwater permit as part of its bulk sampling plan.