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.
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.
Iron County citizens are holding a forum next week. It will look at issues brought on by iron mining in Minnesota. Organizer Terry Daulton says the guest is research scientist Nancy Schuldt water quality specialist with the Fond du Lac Tribe.
“And she works on a lot of the issues relating to water quality and wild rice, and also potential things like mercury contamination that would affect tribal members there in Minnesota.”
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.
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 Department of Natural Resources held its first public hearing on the Penokee Mine project Thursday. Hundreds of people showed up in Hurley.
People came from far and wide to voice strong opinions on the proposal. There were even a few speakers from the Navajo Nation in Arizona, and an Ashland, WI contingent actually biked the 40 miles to the hearing. Cyclist Michael McKenna says they wanted to their voices to be heard:
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.
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.