Gogebic Taconite Submits New Drilling ApplicationSubmitted: 05/13/2013
Story By Kailey Burton

Photos By Kailey Burton

MADISON - Gogebic Taconite took another step towards mining in Northern Wisconsin. The company submitted a new application for exploratory drilling in the Penokee range.

In 2011 the DNR gave Gogebic Taconite permission to explore the region and test-drill in several sites, but the company withdrew their plans.

Now the DNR is required by law to approve or reject Gogebic's new request within 10 days. The request for exploratory drilling they submitted Wednesday is NOT to mine the area, but to check the ground for certain minerals.

Ann Coakley, the director of the DNRs Waste & Materials Management program explains:
"We look at what kind of minerals will be in the water, sediments in the water and make sure that it's clean enough after running through their waste water system that it can actually be put back into the environment."

Before Gogebic Taconite can submit an application to MINE the area, they have to show how they can do it without negatively affecting the environment.

In the exploration they would pull 2-inch cores out of the ground in 13 sites. Some of those test cores come from 300 to 1,000 feet underground. They're looking to see what kind of minerals they'd have to clean up from the "waste rock" they pull out in search of the iron-rich ore.

"It's really up to the applicant to show us that they can have a mine and manage it in a way such that they won't have these negative impacts on the environment," says Coakley.

Coakley says it is possible to manage a mine effectively and safely, but each mining site is different, so each needs to be reviewed carefully.

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