Mining company withdraws exploration permit, bondsThe company that proposed building a $1.5 billion mine in Ashland and Iron Counties is taking its first concrete step to withdraw from Wisconsin. In a letter to the Department of Natural Resources Friday, it has asked to withdraw its mineral exploration license.
By: By Mike Simonson/Wisconsin Public Radio, Superior Telegram
The company that proposed building a $1.5 billion mine in Ashland and Iron Counties is taking its first concrete step to withdraw from Wisconsin.
In a letter to the Department of Natural Resources Friday, it has asked to withdraw its mineral exploration license.
That license allows Gogebic Taconite to drill exploratory holes on the proposed mining site, but it also requires them to file a reclamation security bonds totaling $30,000. GTAC is asking the state to return those bonds.
GTAC says it has not done any drilling in northern Wisconsin so no reclamation is needed.
A DNR official says they will begin processing the request in the next few days.
In spite of this, GTAC hasn’t pulled up stakes and left yet.
It’s hard to tell when a potential mining company has actually left. Since Gogebic Taconite never filed for a formal mining permit, a Department of Natural Resources spokesperson says there is nothing to suspend or discontinue.
GTAC does not own the property or mineral rights to the Penokee Range, but it is leasing the option for both from Global Minerals Engineering of Hibbing, Minn. That company would not comment except to confirm that GTAC hasn’t relinquished that option yet.
Finally, there is GTAC’s office in Hurley, which remains open. Company spokesman Bob Seitz says that will stay open but it doesn’t mean they’ve changed their mind.
“No. They have withdrawn all their action in Wisconsin and are moving on to other options including the Upper Peninsula (of Michigan),” he said. “I’m not sure what other options beyond that. Yeah. They have moved on, on those things.”
Seitz says they still hope for a new iron mining law.
“Wisconsin should reform its own mining laws for Wisconsin’s own sake, and then they should recruit companies that would come and invest and create jobs here,” Seitz said. “Mining is the only sector of manufacturing that is growing in this country and Wisconsin is missing it.”
When asked if he thought mining was dead in Wisconsin, Seitz said: “It’s dead as long as Wisconsin doesn’t reform its law.”
Seitz wouldn’t say if GTAC would renew its option on the mineral rights to the Penokee Range. He says that’s proprietary information.