October 31, 2014

Gogebic defends decision to pull out

Gogebic Taconite lobbyist Bob Seitz says the state Senate’s failure to pass a mining bill Tuesday convinced the company it was pointless to continue investing time and resources in to a proposed iron ore mine in northern Wisconsin. Seitz says the decision to vote down the compromise shows “there’s no willingness to go ahead with clean mining in Wisconsin.”

The project would have created a large open pit mining operation in Ashland and Iron Counties, bringing with it the potential to create several thousand jobs.

State Senate Democrat Bob Jauch (D-Poplar) and Republican Dale Schultz (R-Richland Center) pushed for passage of their version of the bill, which they say balances environmental concerns and issues the company has raised. Majority Republicans have rejected that proposal and Seitz says that bill is not what Gogebic was looking for.

Seitz says the Jauch-Schultz bill was just “an attempt for political cover.” He says there are provisions in that version of the bill that actually make the state’s “mining moratorium” worse.

Environmental groups argue Gogebic’s decision to abandon the project shows the company was only interested in mining under its own rules. Seitz says those charges are ridiculous, noting the company developed a closed loop system to reduce discharge and made an agreement with Michigan to pipe in water to reduce the impact on local watersheds.

As for Gogebic’s future in Wisconsin, Seitz says the company will not pursue a project here as long as the state’s “mining moratorium” is in place.

AUDIO: Andrew Beckett reports (1:16)