Sample blasting might not be needed for Wisconsin mineA company looking to dig a huge iron mine just south of Lake Superior says it may not resort to blasting for thousands of tons of rock samples.
By: The Associated Press, Superior Telegram
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A company looking to dig a huge iron mine just south of Lake Superior says it may not resort to blasting for thousands of tons of rock samples.
Gogebic Taconite wants to dig a 4½-mile long open pit mine in the Penokee Hills. The company asked theWisconsin Department of Natural Resources in June for permission to begin bulk sampling activity to assess the quality of the iron deposit and run samples through mills.
The company's plan called for removing thousands of tons of rock from the sites. The DNR asked Gogebic Taconite last month for more details, including what kind of explosives would be used, air emission estimates, a wetland inventory for the site and anti-erosion and anti-pollution measures.
The Wisconsin State Journal reported that the company has submitted a revised plan to the DNR. In lieu of blasting, it calls for collecting sample rock from rubble left behind when U.S. Steel blasted the area in the early 1960s. U.S. Steel removed tons of sample rock from the hills, leaving behind three trenches now overgrown with saplings and brush.
Gogebic Taconite spokesman Bob Seitz told the newspaper it'd be cheaper not to blast. Seitz also said after Gogebic Taconite finishes removing samples, the company would return topsoil to the sites and seed it with grass and wildflowers.
"We'll actually leave things in better shape than we found them," Seitz said.
DNR hydrologist Larry Lynch said no explosives would mean less dust that could settle over the hills.
Gogebic Taconite's new plan calls for removing about 4,000 tons of rock; the original plan called for removing as much as 10,000 tons. The company also disputes a DNR assertion asbestos may lie within the rock and contends state law doesn't require the company to take steps to control the material.
Lynch said the DNR hasn't thoroughly reviewed the new plan to determine if all the agency's questions have been answered.
Information from: Wisconsin State Journal, http://www.madison.com/wsj