A huge – and hugely controversial – open-pit iron mine proposed for northern Wisconsin is officially not happening. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources said Friday that Gogebic Taconite has notified the agency that it is withdrawing its pre-application notice related to the proposed iron mine in the ecologically sensitive Penokee Hills in Ashland and Iron Counties.
The notification follows the February closing of the company’s office in Hurley. GTAC President Bill Williams noted at that time that their “environmental investigation and analysis of the site has revealed wetland issues that make major continued investment unfeasible at this time.”
GTAC’s departure comes after more than two years of controversy surrounding the mine proposal. Republican legislators in Madison enacted changes to state law which were carefully crafted to provide GTAC with greater certainty about the DNR permitting process. Tribal leaders and environmental groups said the massive mine would prove environmentally disastrous for the Bad River Watershed, and vowed to fight the project. Federal officials had also indicated that their time tables for reviewing any mining permit would not be advanced just because of changes at the state level.
The DNR will continue to work with the company to complete necessary work on the site to ensure it is properly maintained and environmentally stable. Land adjacent to the mine site will also be reopened to the public.