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Bill to fast-track mining project shifts down a few gears

It looks like a bill speeding up the permitting process for iron ore mining in Wisconsin will come in the fall legislative session, after the recall elections are finished.

It looks like a bill speeding up the permitting process for iron ore mining in Wisconsin will come in the fall legislative session, after the recall elections are finished.

G-Tac Mining Manager Matt Fifield says without a mining bill, they can't move ahead with their billion dollar mining project in the Penokee Mountain Range along Ashland and Iron Counties.

"We want to be able to start answering the questions that people have, and you need data to do that," says Fifeld. "We'd like to be able to go out and use best practices to collect data now and not be fearful that it would not be valid to use in a permit."

The proposed mine is in state Senator Bob Jauch's district. He agrees the state mining process should be sped up, but he doesn't want the bill written by G-Tac, but rather have the public influence its outcome.

"Clearly, no company should be in the driver's seat in determining the regulations in which they have to comply with," says Jauch, D-Poplar. "What is frustrating is, that the company seems to know of a bill but the public does not."

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Jauch says nothing will happen in mining until after next month's recall elections. As for G-Tac's Fifield, he insists he doesn't know what will be in the new mining bill, but will take a "wait and see" approach.

G-Tac is moving forward in one aspect. This month they renewed their license to drill eight exploratory holes in the Mellen-Upson area.

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