The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

G-Tac's proposed mine first ranked story of 2013


Cortney Ofstad/Daily Globe

EMPLOYEES FROM Idea Drilling, of Virginia, Minn., work on equipment while drilling for core samples, June 12 at the site of Gogebic Taconite's proposed iron ore mine near Upson, Wis. The day before, protestors delayed the drilling process and one woman was subsequently arrested for her involvement.

Editor's note: The Daily Globe has again counted down the top five local stories of the year. The first ranked story centered on developments concerning Gogebic-Taconite's proposed mine near Upson, Wis.

UPSON Wis. - The possible return of mining to Iron County by Gogebic Taconite made news throughout 2013 on many fronts.

Controversy over the proposed mine continued, with proponents citing the needed hundreds of jobs and opponents voicing environmental concerns.

Currently, the company is finishing its bulk sampling application to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, and it submitted an application for a stormwater permit.

As of Dec. 14, the DNR was still working on the application.

Once everything is completed with the WDNR, the company will file an application for a conditional use permit from Iron County.

Company workers hope to get out into to the field in January or February when the ground is frozen, making it easier to obtain samples.

Throughout the process, G-Tac officials have attended mining impact committee meetings in Iron and Ashland counties, and they hosted one-on-one meetings with area residents in November to receive comments and answer questions about the mining process.

According to G-Tac spokesman Bob Seitz, the meetings were a success, featuring about 20 sessions at five locations in both counties.

A protest on the first day of test drilling at the Upson site drew statewide attention.

Protestor Katie "Krow" Kloth, faces three misdemeanors and a felony after the protest at the planned iron ore mine site.

Kloth faces charges of felony robbery with use of force, theft of property (less than $2,500) and two misdemeanors for criminal damage to property for the June 6 incident with an employee contracted by G-Tac.

Kloth was part of a highly confrontational group dressed in masks, according to the Iron County Sheriff's Department. She's alleged to have taken a personal camera and cell phone from the employee before running off into the woods.

Later, a video surfaced on the Internet of the protestors and Kloth was identified.

She will be arraigned Monday at 3 p.m. in Iron County Court in Hurley.

Because of the incident, the company hired a security team to allow drilling for core samples. The move caused Wisconsin Sen. Robert Jauch, D-Poplar, and state Rep. Janet Bewley, D-Ashland, to release a combined statement against the use of security personnel in the woods near the site.

The team was removed after it was found to not be properly licensed in Wisconsin, but moves were made at the state level to help deter violence near the site.

Near the end of 2013, Gov. Scott Walker signed a bill restricting public access to the mine site. The bill creates 600-foot restricted zones around the mining equipment and roads at the site.

The legislation stemmed from the incident in June, and focuses on "health and safety of site visitors and mine workers," according to a statement from Walker's office released Dec. 12.

Throughout the application process, numerous meetings have taken place at the county and state levels to iron out G-Tac's plans to collect data on samples from the proposed site. The process allows for G-Tac, the DNR and other groups to review test data on how rock will respond during certain mining activities, possible dangers, including asbestos and acid mine drainage, and other mining repercussions.

While 2013 was busy, 2014 will be even busier for G-Tac.


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