Wisconsin iron ore project accused of ‘sweetheart’ dealmaking – by Dorothy Kosich (Mineweb.com – September 4, 2013)


The fight over the return of Wisconsin iron ore mining is not finished, as opponents try to prove the Gogebic Taconite project will harm water quality in wetlands.

RENO (MINEWEB) – Wisconsin tribes, lawmakers and miners are fighting over an emergency bill introduced in the Wisconsin State Legislature over the long Labor Day weekend and scheduled for hearing Wednesday, which would allow a controversial iron ore project to restrict public access to a parcel of land near the project.

The Gogebic Taconite iron ore company, owned by West Virginia coal magnate, Chris Cline, aims to construct a $1.5 billion iron ore mine in northern Wisconsin after the state legislature enacted permitting reform in March 2013 to bring back iron ore mining to the state. The mine would operate for at least 35 years and generate 700 jobs in an economically hard-hit area of Wisconsin.

However, the battle over the project is far from over as Native Americans have been regularly protesting against it, prompting accusations of “eco-terrorism” by mining officials. In June, protestors were accused of slashing tires, damaging equipment, and knocking over fences on the minesite. Opponents argue the new mine permitting legislation has relaxed environmental regulations that will lead to pollution of the Bad River watershed, which flows north from the proposed mine area into Lake Superior.

The Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa have established an encampment at the foot of the Penokee Hills near the proposed mine site with nearly 3,000 people visiting the camp since it opened in March. “Over the summer, scientists from many disciplines have toured the area identifying plant and animal species, looking at rock outcroppings and testing the water,” said The Progressive website.

Late last month, a lawyer for Gogebic wrote to the chairman of the Bad River Band, telling the tribe it is unlawful for them to send their wetlands expert to enter the mining property without permission.

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