Ashland county could be home to new taconite mine

By KBJR News 1

October 18, 2010 Updated Oct 18, 2010 at 9:41 PM CDT

Ashland, WI (Northlands NewsCenter)-The Penokee Range is one of the most pristine places in Ashland County and it could become home to Wisconsin's newest taconite mine.

Very little is known about the mining project except that Gogebic Taconite LLC is doing an internal feasibility study to see if it will be economical to mine along the Gogebic-Penokee Range.

Sen. Bob Jauch met with company officials this summer and said while the project has an incredible economic benefit there are still a lot of unanswered questions.

"The one thing we know is that there is iron ore deposit on the Penokee Mountain Range. What we don't know is what the company intends to do," Jauch said.

Despite knowing only a few details some Ashland County supervisors are throwing their full support behind the project.
They believe the mine would bring in millions of dollars to the area and create at least 1,000 jobs. They also believe it will help keep young people here.

"We graduate hundreds of kids in Ashland County yearly and 98 percent of them have to leave because of no jobs. We have to have jobs. This is the most positive thing that I've heard in a long time and I'm just excited about it," Ronald Nye, a county supervisor, said.

While there is hope for jobs there is also a lot of environmental concern because the mine would sit very close to the Great Lakes Basin. But even then county leaders said the benefits outweigh the risks.

"With all the new regulations and requirements you can pretty much be assured that the total process is going to be environmentally safe," Frank Kempf, vice-chair of the county board said.

The company did not return phone calls for comment but those close to the project said the feasibility study is far from complete and it could take years before a mining permit could even be approved.

Currently there are no active mines anywhere in Wisconsin.
The last mine was the Flambeau Mine in Ladysmith.
Flambeau closed in 1997 just 4 years after it opened.

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