Schoepke exploratory drilling blindsides nearby landownersSubmitted: 06/16/2020
Dan Hagen
Dan Hagen

Schoepke exploratory drilling blindsides nearby landowners
SCHOEPKE - A mining company will drill eight holes in eastern Oneida County in June, the first mining-related exploratory drilling in Wisconsin since 2012.

"If it would ever develop into a mine, it could come up right to my doorstep," said Jeff Seabloom.

Just 25 feet away from Seabloom's doorstep, a blue ribbon flies - showing how close a potential eastern Oneida County mine could get.

"It's going to affect my property value," said Seabloom. "Who's going to want to be next to a mine?"

Badger Minerals is a Michigan-based mining exploration subsidiary of a Canadian company. It began drilling this month near the town of Schoepke.

Minerals like zinc, copper, silver, and gold could all be in the ground at the Schoepke drilling site. But extraction of these minerals requires sulfide mining - damaging the environment and ruining Seabloom's small farm.

"If the sulfide mine exists here, there will be sulfide dust flying in the air," said Seabloom. "Sulfide reacting to water and air forms sulfuric acid - acid rains. Now, I can't see anything growing on acid rains out here."

Oneida County government and the DNR approved Badger Minerals' plans, but Seabloom was never notified. Neither was the Zabler family just a half mile down the road.

"There's so many issues, so many fears of ours, so many unknowns," said Zabler. "Had someone reached out to us in the very beginning and said this is what we're proposing - what are your thoughts as taxpayers, what are your thoughts as residents. It would've been a lot easier to process."

A Wisconsin statute (2017 Wisconsin Act 134 Section 13e) requires a public information hearing for proposed exploratory drilling sites.

Seabloom and the Zabler family never heard of such a hearing. The Zabler family just found out about the drilling last week.

"They're currently doing exploratory drilling," said Ron Zabler. "And you can hear the background, they're grating our road. It's happening now."

The drilling will continue for at least another week.

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