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GTAC may build mine sans Ashland County
Gogebic Taconite is considering changing its proposed iron ore mining plan. They may mine in just Iron County, and not include Ashland County. Mike Simonson reports.
If Gogebic Taconite pulls out of Ashland County, it would mean the two pits would be 400 fewer acres in the 3200 acre project. GTAC spokesman Bob Seitz says this is in part, reaction to an ordinance passed by the Ashland County Board last year requiring a mining permit fee.
“We have to balance the approach that Ashland County has made, which has been very negative to jobs and investment, against the benefit of that small part of the project that lies in Ashland County.”
He specifically fingered County Board Chairman Pete Russo. Russo doesn’t mind.
“That makes me feel good. It’s not the first time I’ve been attacked.”
Russo says the ordinance charging $100,000 for a permit to mine is fair. But he says GTAC hasn’t played fair.
"If they had tried to act reasonably and respectful to the people who live up here and not try to bulldoze over everybody, there might have been a different outlook. You know what I’m saying?”
Russo says mining is more difficult in Ashland County because of the high water table and findings of asbestos-like minerals.
Meanwhile, Seitz says they’re not considering ending efforts to get a mining permit.
“No, we are not. We are still operating as we have been except that the spring and summer field work is done and so contractors and temporary people, seasonal kind of work is done.”
There has been speculation from people near the mine site this week that GTAC was leaving the state. It had pulled out two years ago when mining legislation wasn’t changed. The legislature then passed a mining bill that would make it easier and faster to get a permit.
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