Mining

Gogebic Taconite Gets Exploratory Permit

May 31, 2013

The DNR has granted an exploratory permit to Gogebic Taconite, the company that wants to open a giant iron mine in northern Wisconsin.

Susan Bence

Plenty of journalists have covered – over the past year or so – the often hostile legislative and environmental battle that surrounded proposed iron or mining in the far-off Penokee Hills – located just below Lake Superior.

Although Wisconsin has a new mining law that streamlines permitting; and Gogebic Taconite – a company that sprouted from a Florida-based business – has begun its application process, writer Erik Gunn with Milwaukee Magazine thought the subject deserved a fresh examination.

Controversy continues churning in Wisconsin over a potential mining operation in the far north.Advocates say the venture promises much-needed jobs; opponents fear irreparable damage to pristine waterways and wetlands.Last month, Republican lawmakers pushed a strongly debated bill through the Assembly. A Senate Select Committee could unveil its version as early as today.

Stop in at a town or county meeting in western Wisconsin, and frac sand mining is likely to top the agenda - namely, balancing the demands of a mining operation with concerns of residents.

We continue our exploration of frac sand mining that is sweeping western Wisconsin landscapes.

Towns and counties in western Wisconsin are scrambling to keep up with the demand for its silica sand. Some residents celebrate the jobs and commerce the mines bring; others worry about their environment and rural quality of life.

Gold rush mentality seems to reign as entrepreneurs race to mine silica sand - an essential element of  fracking.

Frac sand mines are multiplying across western Wisconsin's agricultural landscape at a dizzying pace.  WUWM digs into the polarizing development.

Scott Walker is not taking much time to drink in the sweetness of success after surviving a contentious recall campaign.

Early Wednesday, the Governor visited a small company in Oak Creek before heading to his office in Madison.

WUWM Environmental Reporter Susan Bence stopped at the family-owned manufacturer to learn if Walker’s immediate plans are environmentally related.

A couple state Senators hope to slice through Wisconsin’s rancor-ridden mining debate.

A Florida-based company wants to extract iron ore from south of Lake Superior, creating hundreds of jobs, but only if the state does not drag out the permitting process.

Republican Senator Dale Schultz and Democrat Bob Jauch say they have drafted a 12-page bill addressing concerns some have with the lengthy bill the Assembly approved.

Jauch took a break from the Senate floor late Tuesday to talk with WUWM Environmental Reporter Susan Bence.

Momentum to streamline Wisconsin’s mine permitting process is rocketing ahead.

This week, to accelerate Senate action, Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald disbanded a bipartisan mining jobs committee - sending the Assembly’s bill to the budget committee.

It will hold a hearing Friday at the Capital, with a potential Senate vote next week.

Supporters of the faster permitting process say northern Wisconsin needs the jobs an iron ore mine would bring.

Critics insist the state needs time to study whether the operation would irreparably harm the environment.

WUWM Environmental Reporter Susan Bence visited the region to gather residents’ views. She now concludes her series by chatting with researchers on the scene using what they know to predict how a strip mine might affect a pristine watershed.

Environmental groups are not any happier with a new Senate mining bill, than with legislation the Assembly passed weeks ago.

Advocates of streamlined regulations want to pave the way for an open pit iron mine just south of Lake Superior.

People who live nearby have mixed opinions.

Yesterday we spoke with residents who support mining because of the hundreds of jobs it would create.

Today, WUWM Environmental Reporter Susan Bence steps into the Penokee Range where some people hope to stop or at least slow the process.

A state lawmaker revealed a much-anticipated iron mining bill Monday. It’s still in draft form.
Senator Neal Kedzie of Elkhorn wants the Select Committee on Mining Jobs, which he heads - along with the public - to comment on both the preliminary document as well as a mining bill the Assembly passed last month.

Weeks have passed since Wisconsin Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald named a seven-member committee to suggest ways of streamlining the state’s mining rules. Momentum for change stems from an untouched stash of iron ore in northern Wisconsin. Proponents of the project say it promises employment in a job-starved region.Critics fear an intricate web of streams and wetlands that feed into Lake Superior would suffer irreparable impact.