Penokee Mine

County Won't Budge on Camping Limit
3:48 pm
Fri March 14, 2014

Iron County Votes to Evict Harvest Camp

The Harvest Camp, or Harvest Education Learning Project, has been in existence since last spring.
Credit Natalie Jablonski / WXPR News

The Iron County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to close the Lac Courte Oreilles Harvest Camp Thursday night, saying residents are violating a 14-day camping limit on county forest land. 

About 30 people attended the meeting, most speaking in support of what’s officially called the Harvest Education Learning Project, or HELP Village.  An hour of public comment was followed by an hour in closed session, where county supervisors consulted with legal counsel.  A motion to close the camp passed 13 votes to 0, with two members absent. 

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Response to Preapplication
2:22 pm
Wed March 12, 2014

DNR Outlines Permit Requirements for GTac Mine

The Wisconsin DNR has responded to Gogebic Taconite’s initial plan for an iron mine in the Penokee Range. 

The company filed its pre-application notification last June…which consisted of preliminary plans and a stated intent to file a mining permit.

The DNR has responded with a list of required permits and environmental data that the company will need to prepare. 

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Public Access Controversy
5:31 pm
Wed February 5, 2014

Activists Test Limits of 600' Restricted Zone

Credit Andy Arthur

Groups of snowshoers continue to traverse areas where Gogebic Taconite is drilling and sampling.  

A new law forbids the public from coming within 600 feet of equipment and roads used for iron mining.   But those opposed to the measure say it’s designed to hide environmental damage from the public. 

Paul DeMain organized a recent trip to the Tyler Forks.  He says some activists are hoping for a citation, in hopes of challenging the law in court.

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Fifteen Extra Holes
3:56 pm
Fri January 3, 2014

GTac Applies for More Exploratory Drilling

Gogebic Taconite has proposed drilling 15 exploratory holes in Iron and Ashland counties.
Credit Natalie Jablonski / WXPR News

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.

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Sticking It Out for the Winter
5:56 pm
Wed November 27, 2013

LCO Harvest Camp Giving Thanks

Above: the Harvest Camp has been going strong through spring and summer.
Credit Natalie Jablonski / WXPR News

The Lac Courte Oreilles Harvest Camp is celebrating a feast day Thursday.  

The camp formed in the spring of this year in response to a proposed iron mine in the Penokee Hills.  

Five people are spending the winter at the camp…which has already seen more than a foot of snow.  Spokesman Paul DeMain says the camp has visitors every day, and several dozen people could attend the feast.                       

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No Photos, Please
4:00 am
Tue November 26, 2013

Up Close: Iron Mining in the Upper Peninsula

Iron pellets from Empire and Tilden mines is sent to the Marquette Ore Docks on Lake Superior.
Credit P. Gordon / http://www.flickr.com/photos/pgordon/5264273065/sizes/m/in/photolist-92bLYH/

Controversy continues over a proposed iron mine in Iron and Ashland counties.  

While Wisconsin hasn’t seen an open pit mine in a while, some neighboring states have.  Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is home to a pair of open pit iron mines that have been operating for several decades.   

Standing on the edge of Empire Mine is like looking into an amphitheater far too big for any performance.  It’s a mile wide and a mile across.  1200 feet deep.  I start wondering how many swimming pools it would take to fill it. 

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A Tale of Two Mines
1:33 pm
Tue November 5, 2013

Mine Regulations: Not Tough Enough?

One mining specialist is questioning whether a proposed iron mine in the Penokee range has enough social support to go forward. 

John Coleman is an environmental section leader at Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission, a group that helps enforce tribal treaty rights in Wisconsin.  Coleman has worked primarily on mining issues since 1994, when a mine proposed near Crandon faced tribal opposition.  

Coleman thinks state regulators aren’t as tough as they were in the nineties.

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A Closer Look at New Laws
4:25 pm
Wed October 23, 2013

Mining Critics Call for Independent Testing, Scrutinize Legislation

The state’s Sierra Club is calling for independent testing of a proposed iron mine site.  The group has long been against Gogebic Taconite’s plan to mine in the Penokee Range. 

Dave Blouin is mining chair for Wisconsin’s chapter of the Sierra Club.   Blouin says recent findings of asbestos-like fibers underscore the need for watchdog testing.

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A Skeptical View
4:00 am
Thu October 10, 2013

Retired Mining Engineer Wary of GTac Plans

Controversy continues to simmer over a proposed iron mine in northern Wisconsin’s Penokee Range.  Gogebic Taconite is currently waiting for approval to do bulk sampling of more than 4000 tons of rock.  And the company hasn’t even begun what would likely be a multi-year permitting process to open a mine.  But one retired mining engineer is wondering if there’s enough ore to mine profitably in the first place.  

One thing is clear: Jack Parker’s career in the mining industry has given him a hefty resume in the business. 

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Penokee Hills Mining Controversy
12:38 pm
Tue October 8, 2013

Penokee Asbestos Worries Grow

Grunerite is found in various parts of Northern Wisconsin and Michigan's Upper Peninsula. The above sample was photographed at the Michigamme Mine in Marquette County.
Credit Leon Hupperichs

Asbestos found in rock near a proposed iron mine is raising questions about mine safety, especially for workers.  

A Northland College professor says he found a mineral called grunerite sandwiched between layers of iron ore. 

Geoscience Professor Tom Fitz says grunerite does not always take the form of the long slender fibers that characterize asbestos.  But he says in this case, it does. 

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