‘Mini-mining’ is what comes after GTAC’s exploratory drillingExploratory drilling is expected to continue for another month or so in the Penokee Range — but after that there will be some “mini-mining.”
By: By Mike Simonson, Wisconsin Public Radio, Superior Telegram
Exploratory drilling is expected to continue for another month or so in the Penokee Range — but after that there will be some “mini-mining.”
The idea is to take five areas in the Penokee Range, each about the size of swimming pool, and blast out 8 to 12-inch chunks of ore and submit that as a bulk sampling to the Department of Natural Resources. That’s contingent on the DNR granting Gogebic Taconite (GTAC) permission to go ahead with its plan.
DNR hydrogeologist Larry Lynch says that approval will come after a public informational hearing and probably won’t happen for another 45 to 75 days. But if it proceeds, it will sample somewhere around 10,000 tons of rock.
“They will drill some shallow holes and load them with explosives and shoot the rocks so it's 6 to 12 inch pieces of rock,” Lynch said. “Then they would haul the rocks — load it into trucks, and haul it off.”
GTAC spokesman Bob Seitz says they will leave the area in better shape than they found it.
“Primarily the sites we're using are previously disturbed bulk sample sites from the '50s and '60s,” Seitz said. “Those were left unreclaimed at the time. So we're proposing to go in, clear those, take an additional rock sample from them as was done 50 to 60 years ago, but then we would reclaim what was left unreclaimed then.”
GTAC wants to build a 4.5 mile-long open pit mine in the Iron and Ashland County area of the Penokees. It needs the bulk samples to examine the quality of the iron ore.