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.”
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.
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.
The president of the company that's pursuing a new iron ore mine in northern Wisconsin may be tied to alleged environmental violations at a mine in Spain. Bill Williams of Gogebic Taconite was previously a manager of Cobre Las Cruces, an open pit mine in Spain that's accused of breaking laws in the handling of the mine's groundwater.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel said the Seville Justice Ministry in Spain rejected an appeal this month from the mine's owners -- and its managers now face criminal charges for allegedly exposing local groundwater to high levels of arsenic.
A state lawmaker says he’ll keep working on a bill that would allow Gogebic Taconite to restrict public access to the site of a proposed iron mine. Right now the area is open to public recreation under the managed forest program.
After pulling the legislation from the Senate calendar, Senator Tom Tiffany of Hazelhurst says he’ll make revisions in hopes of getting the votes he needs.
Some local officials aren’t thrilled with a state senate bill allowing Gogebic Taconite to cut off public access from its proposed mine site.
The area sits on managed forest land, meaning property owners get a tax break if they open their land to public recreation. Under a bill authored by Senator Tom Tiffany, GTac could close about 4000 acres and pay only a small increase in taxes, rather than a higher tax rate associated with managed forest closed to public access.