Wisconsin rewriting mining law to accommodate huge iron ore mine

The State of Wisconsin is being forced to weigh the age-old concerns over environmental protection versus economic development as it looks to rewrite its mine law to accomodate a huge iron ore mine in an impoverished region of the state.

Asked earlier this year to shorten its environmental permitting process from 5 years to 300 days, the State is now taking a second crack at rewriting its mining legislation after draft legislation was scrapped due to public outcry regarding the secretive nature of the process.

Groups opposed to the open-pit mine, which would stretch four miles along Ashland and Iron Counties, say the mine would endanger water and air quality and create an ugly scar on the landscape.

Opponents include tribal leaders and environmental heavyweight The Sierra Club.

The proponent, Gogebic Taconite, says the mine has a life of 35 years and would employ about 700 workers. On its website GTAC states the deposit contains 1.2 billion tons of iron ore and that the mine will use water and magnets to separate the ore rather than chemicals used in sulphide mines.

WISBusiness.com reports that “members of the Bad River Band of the Lake Superior Tribe of Chippewa Indians, who live downstream from the proposed project, released 10 principles that any new mining legislation should include. The first principle proposes that the definition of iron mining should exclude any project proposal that has the potential to cause acid mine drainage.”

Ashland Current reports the Republican Senator overseeing the rewrite, Neil Kedzie, saying the process will be fair and bipartisan, and that mining has a place in Wisconsin. No date has yet been set for the legislation to be completed.









251 1