Iron County has released a second draft of its metallic mining ordinance.
It outlines the process a mining company would need to follow for county approval, and includes a host of regulations and protections.
Zoning Administrator Tom Bergman says the purpose of a local ordinance is to be more specific than state rules can be. For example, he says the draft includes a requirement that a mining company monitor and test nearby private wells.
The Wisconsin DNR is waiting for the next move from Gogebic Taconite, now that the company has stopped fieldwork operations for the year.
DNR hydrologist and project lead Larry Lynch says activity on the proposed mine site wrapped up last month.
“They stopped their data collection in regard to surface monitoring, so right now there’s really nothing going on on the site. They also stopped their road improvement work on one of the access roads.”
Tribal leaders are headed to Traverse City Michigan this weekend to meet with the federal Environmental Protection Agency.
Wisconsin’s six Chippewa tribes have asked the EPA to intervene in Gogebic Taconite’s iron mining proposal. They say Wisconsin’s iron mining laws don’t do enough to protect crucial downstream resources like wild rice and fish…that are protected in the ceded territory by federal treaty rights.
Lac du Flambeau chairman Tom Maulson says the tribes are in a unique position to safeguard the environment.
Gogebic Taconite has filed a request with the state to renew two exploratory drilling permits for the Penokee Hills mine site.
DNR hydrologist Larry Lynch says the company has filed paperwork to renew their exploration licenses....
"....one of the renewal applications included provisions to drill six more exploration bore holes on the site. We also received a revised stormwater permit application and that application is to cover road improvement on the site....."
Governor Scott Walker says he hopes the EPA won’t intervene based on political reasons to stop an iron mine permitting process from moving forward.
Wisconsin’s six Chippewa tribes have asked the federal agency to step in before the state DNR or the Army Corps of Engineers reviews a proposed mine in the Penokee Hills. The tribes say water quality and fisheries protected by treaty rights are at stake.
Stopping in Rhinelander today, Governor Walker said state laws offer strong environmental protections.
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.
Gogebic Taconite has indicated it plans to drill more holes in the Penokee Range this summer, though the DNR says the company hasn’t yet applied for the needed permission.
DNR hydrologist and mining project lead Larry Lynch says the DNR must first grant a license for any exploratory drilling.
“So in order to get that they have to give us the locations of the holes, what their target depths might be, how they intend to maintain the site, handle stormwater…basically give us a good description of what they intend to do.”