An iron ore mine being proposed for Wisconsin’s north woods is already drawing opposition from environmental and outdoors groups. A company which wants to develop the mine is looking for a rewrite of state law to expedite permitting process. Wisconsin Wildlife Federation President George Meyer believes it’s a much bigger deal than an earlier mining proposal. “It is my opinion, from having been there several times, that the Penokee Hills area, and the Bad River below it, are far more environmentally sensitive than the Crandon mine site was,” said Meyer. Gogebic Taconite has proposed the $1.5 billion open pit mine in the Penokee Range region of northern Wisconsin, and a state Senate committee is being formed to consider those revisions to state law.
Shahla Werner directs the John Muir chapter of the Sierra Club in Madison. “I think if it is indeed responsible and environmentally sustainable, they should be able the use the laws that we have, which are already a compromise at this point,” said Werner. Also opposing the project is Madison-based Clean Wisconsin. And last week, Bad River tribal chair Mike Wiggins traveled to Madison to meet with Governor Scott Walker and reiterate the tribe’s opposition to the mine.
“Because of the open-pit nature of it, the mine will effect a far larger footprint than the Crandon mine site would have,” said the Wildlife Federation’s Meyer. “I believe this to be a mine that could seriously impact some very important natural resources in northern Wisconsin.” The Crandon mine proposal was abandoned nearly a decade ago. A bill draft which would have rewritten state mining law was never introduced earlier of this year, but the Sierra Club’s Werner said that draft “raised all kinds of troubling flags” about the Penokee Hills project.