GTac Office Closure Prompts Range of Emotions

Mar 2, 2015

Proponents of an iron mine in northern Wisconsin are disappointed that Gogebic Taconite has closed its Hurley office and appears to be backing away from its plan to mine the area. 

Credit Natalie Jablonski / WXPR News

State Senator Tom Tiffany of Hazelhurst blames federal EPA regulations that he says make wetland remediation cost-prohibitive. 

“Whereas at the state level, we set certainty into our bill so they knew what our costs are going to be, they’re not sure at the federal level what those costs are going to be.  So that’s certainly had a chilling effect and impacted their decision.” 

In a statement, company President Bill Williams cited the high cost of wetland mitigation as well as concern that the EPA could intervene to stop the project.

Williams announced Friday Gogebic Taconite’s Hurley office would close March 1st and its employees be offered severance packages. 

Those working to oppose the iron mine proposal are celebrating what appears to be an end to the current plan.  

But spokesperson for the Harvest Education and Learning Project Paul DeMain says it the news doesn’t mean organizers should stop pushing for sustainable alternatives. 

“And so while some people may see this as a win of sorts, as long as that mineral deposit is there in any form or shape, there’s going to be people who will pursue its extraction in the future.  So some of our work has just really begun.” 

DeMain says the HELP Village will continue its research and education work in the Penokees.  It’s planning to expand a maple sugaring operation this spring. 

The move came after several months of indications that the company could be taking a step back from the project.

GTac said it couldn’t pay a ten-thousand dollar lease agreement fee with Iron County in January, and said it was looking into the feasibility of four small pits instead on one large one.