Almost 400 people attended a forum hosted by Science on Tap on the proposed Penokee Mine project.
A panel of six speakers discussed the facts and context of an iron mine that Gogebic Taconite wants to build in the Penokee Range.
Panelists included Northland College Geology Professor Tom Fitz who detailed the different rock formations in the region. Other experts spoke about the economics and job creation associated with mining, the technologies of mine waste management, and the characteristics of the Bad River watershed.
Though audience members had many questions for the panelists, few had clear answers. Most questions were specific, like what the reclamation process would be, and who owns the land where the mine would be located. A common response: it's too soon to know exactly what the mine will look like and even its exact boundaries.
“The bulk of the environmental data collection, the baseline data collection is still yet to be collected. Gogebic Taconite has collected some groundwater samples, very limited, also very limited surface water samples, so that work is really just starting.”
Coakley says technically the company would be allowed to file its mining permit as early as June 17th, which would mark the required one year since Gogebic Taconite filed its preapplication notification, or intent to apply for a mining permit.
But Coakley says that's unlikely. She says Gogebic Taconite knows that if it wants its application to be approved and not rejected, it must submit something very thorough. And that means a lot of data.