Saturday, March 24, 2012

From Woods Person: Sixteen Months -- A Mine Proposal Retrospective

By Wendy Thiede*
Posted on Woods Person March 21, 2012. Reprinted, in part, with permission.

Wendy Thiede, the author of this article, and her husband, Richard Thiede, who publishes the Woods Person blog from northern Wisconsin, pause for a chat with Keweenaw Now during a break at Lake Superior Binational Forum's March 23, 2012, meeting on "Mining Impacts and Lake Superior: A Basinwide Approach" in Ashland, Wis. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

IRON COUNTY, WIS. -- When the mining company came to town, we learned many things about our land, our water, and ourselves. With the promise of 700-2000 jobs and economic prosperity, Gogebic Taconite won the hearts of local citizens, local politicians, state legislators, and the governor. Virtually everyone was on board that cold day in January 2011 at the Ashland Visitor’s Center as eager job seekers listened attentively to GTac’s managing director, Matt Fifield, assure us he could work within the law to build a gigantic open pit mine. Oh, there may have been a few skeptics who realized from the outset how drastically this would alter the area we all love, but most were enthusiastic.

What we had confirmed at that meeting was that a very large amount of iron ore exists in the Penokee Hills -- so large as to attract investment by a billionaire coal baron from Florida. A subsidiary of the Cline Group, Gogebic Taconite was formed and set up shop in Hurley. Residents of the area got excited that their dream of the return of the mines would actually materialize and somehow got the notion that GTac would start hiring right away. Businesses from Hurley to Milwaukee saw dollar signs as visions of trickle down sales danced in their heads. And Governor Walker began to think he could actually fulfill his campaign promise to create jobs by bowing to the whim of a gazillion-dollar man....

Click here, on the Woods Person blog, to read the rest of this article -- a very thorough review of the Gogebic Taconite proposal for an open-pit iron mine and the events that eventually led to the company's recent statement that they would withdraw the proposed project, even before applying for a formal mining permit.

* Editor's Note: Wendy Thiede, the author of this article, is a resident of Iron County, Wis., where Gogebic Taconite proposed the open-pit iron mine for the Penokee Hills.

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