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Committee hears bulk sampling process, timeline

 

Cortney Ofstad/Daily Globe

LARRY LYNCH, a hydrogeologist for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, draws a map regarding wells near a mine site during a Iron County Mining Impact Committee meeting Thursday in Hurley. Lynch spoke to the committee on the bulk sampling process and pre-mining application timeline.

HURLEY - The Iron County Mining Impact Committee listened to a presentation by Larry Lynch of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources during a meeting Thursday.

Lynch, a hydrogeologist for the DNR, spoke to the committee about the bulk sampling process and the timeline related to the mining application for a proposed iron mine near Upson, Wis.

With the bulk sampling, the DNR submitted a letter to Gogebic Taconite on Aug. 13, saying a storm water permit is required for bulk sampling plans G-Tac presented and for more information on specific aspects of the plans.

G-Tac is still currently working on the storm water permit. Once it is completed, the DNR will have 30 days to review the application, and then have up to 30 days to respond on whether the application is officially approved or not.

Lynch also commented on the pre-mining application G-Tac has already submitted, providing a brief timeline for the committee. According to Lynch, a pre-mining application must be submitted at least 12 months before officially applying for a mining permit.

"It basically warns us that a mining application will be coming in the future," Lynch said.

Once the notice is received, the DNR meets with the mining company to lay out what is needed in the permit application.

"Those series of meetings have been scheduled (with G-Tac) to discuss specific issues regarding every aspect of the environment," Lynch said.

When the meetings are completed, the DNR has 60 days to tell the mining company what is officially needed for the mining permit application, including additional plans, studies and testing.

Once the 60 days are complete, Lynch said the timeline becomes "less definite." G-Tac would begin testing and doing surveys on the site at the DNR's request, and much of the work will be done with the DNR on site.

"We may tell them how and what to collect, and then at the opposite extreme, just collect samples ourselves," Lynch said. "However, most of it will be done in the middle with the DNR observing and then splitting the samples to make sure the tests come back the same. This part of the process doesn't have a specific timeline in relation to the law."

However, once everything is submitted, the DNR has 30 days to say if everything is complete. Once the 30 days are complete, the DNR has more time to render a final decision. The DNR would have more than 400 days to render a decision, including public hearings and revisions of the application.

"One thing I want to stress is that we are very early in the process," Lynch said. "There is a tremendous amount of work that has to be done."

G-Tac update

G-Tac president Bill Williams addressed the committee, giving an update for the month of November.

According to Williams, consultants are preparing the next iteration of the bulk sampling storm water permit application, and were on site for specific review and observation with DNR staff.

Consultants have also finished desktop reviews of literature and property documents related to archeology and have been on site for material gathering and mapping of projected areas.

With bulk sampling, Iron County also has an ordinance requiring a conditional use permit, and Williams said the application will be submitted once the submitted bulk sampling plan to the DNR has been reviewed.

Williams also said monitoring has commenced for surface water and plans are being formulated for gathering data to generate the hydrologic model.

Consultants are currently generating various air model scenarios for various locations of the processing and stockpiling facilities for air quality. Williams also commented on the mining plan, saying an engineering firm has generated a geologic/mineral block model, using the property's legacy data and initial mine plans have been generated and verified.

County chairman Joe Pinardi asked Williams about the one-on-one sessions G-Tac held with local employees. Williams said the event went well and "reduced the intimidation factor of speaking in large groups" for residents.

"Even though the door at the office is open, it allowed people to take a look at us and see what we're doing scientifically," Williams said.