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Bad River chair wants GTAC to publicly release U.S. steel data

Mike Wiggins, the chairman of the Bad River Tribe, says Gogebic Taconite (GTAC) should already know what's in the Penokee Hills iron ore body.

In 1960, U.S. Steel was considering making the Penokee Hills Wisconsin's version of Minnesota's Iron Range. It drilled and used explosives to test the ore body. For proprietary reasons, U.S. Steel never released what they found.

GTAC is now using that information, which is still secret to the public, along with drilling eight of its own holes and asking for permits for bulk sampling.

But Bad River Tribal Chairman Mike Wiggins says GTAC should release the U.S. Steel findings.

"There's been no integrity put forth in the process of truly trying to illuminate for the public's knowledge what the potential harms or impacts could be," says Wiggins.

Wiggins believes the mine will release pollution onto their reservation and into Lake Superior. GTAC spokesman Bob Seitz says that's what they're trying to find out.

"If what has been presented turns out to be the case, then we're not going to be able to have a mine and Chairman Wiggins will be happy with that, for sure," says Seitz. "But if there is, there really ought to be discussions among everyone to make sure that things are done in the best way possible."

The Department of Natural Resources must give GTAC permits before it can begin bulk sampling, which is not expected to happen until October.