Penokee Hills

Natalie Jablonski / WXPR News

Negotiations have begun between Iron County officials and the Lac Courte Oreilles Harvest Camp.  Tribal members and supporters set up camp in May near the site of a proposed iron mine in the Penokee Hills.  

After signs that county officials planned to evict the group, the tribe asked to negotiate for a long term arrangement.  Tribal member and camp overseer Mel Gasper says he believes the conversations will be fruitful.              

The public has its first chance to share opinions with the Department of Natural Resources on the Gogebic Taconite mine proposal.  The DNR is holding a hearing Thursday at Hurley High School, from 10 am until 8 pm.  DNR Hydrologist Larry Lynch says DNR officials are hoping for feeback on the specifics of GTac’s plan for bulk sampling and testing of the proposed mine site in Iron and Ashland Counties.  The public can also comment on the preapplication for mining filed by GTac - the first step in the permitting process.

Natalie Jablonski / WXPR News

Members of the public have a chance to weigh in on an open pit mine proposal in Iron County next week. 

The DNR is holding an info session and public hearing on August 15th in Hurley.  Staff will provide details about Gogebic Taconite’s plan for bulk sampling, where the company would remove 4-thousand tons of rock for analysis.  DNR mining spokesperson Ann Coakley says the hearing will also cover GTac’s overall mining plan…which has been submitted to the DNR in a preapplication. 

Rob Ganson

Mining company Gogebic Taconite has removed heavily armed guards stationed at its drill site in Iron County.  The move comes after revelations that the Arizona-based security company that supplied the guards is not licensed in Wisconsin. 

Pete Rasmussen

Heavily armed and masked guards at the Gogebic Taconite mine site have raised the hackles of some Northwoods residents and lawmakers.  But state regulators with the Department of Natural Resources don’t see a problem with the new security force.  

Natalie Jablonski / WXPR News

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.”

Natalie Jablonski / WXPR News

 

Iron County zoning officials have taken no action on an ordinance to regulate the mining of metals. That decision after a public hearing on the rules that would affect a proposed iron mine in the Penokee Hills. The hearing drew about a hundred people.

Few empty seats remained in the Memorial Building in Hurley last night...during a two hour public hearing. Residents fervently expressed the need for jobs and environmental protection in light of Gogibic Taconite's proposal to set up a mine on the border of Iron and Ashland counties.

 

Iron County residents have a chance to brush up on their understanding of local zoning ordinances that regulate mining.  The Iron County Citizen’s Forum is hosting speaker George Meyer, executive director of the Wisconsin Wildlife Foundation and former secretary of the state’s Department of Natural Resources.  Terry Daulton with the Iron County Citizen’s Forum says it will help inform people about how communities deal with mining activities.

Joel Austin

The state's new faster permitting process for mining is being seen as Gogebic Taconite has submitted a plan defining five areas they would like to test for minerals.

The company is hoping to open a miles-long open pit mine in Iron and Ashland counties in what's known as the Penokee Hills.

DNR hydrologist Larry Lynch says the company submitted the two plans...

"....what we have to do is review the proposal and within 14 days notify the company what other permits or approvals are required in order for them to undertake that plan..."