Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.COM)
The Ashland county board approved two mining ordinances that could result in some major changes for mining activity in the county.
The ordinances, passed last week, require Gogebic Taconite to pay to mine in the county.
The first ordinance approved by the Ashland County Board requires Gogebic Taconite to purchase a 100,000 dollar permit to mine in Ashland County.
"By just coming in here it affects the whole infrastructure of the county," says Pete Russo, Chairman of the Ashland County Board.
The second ordinance requires GTAC to maintain a minimum balance of $50,000 for county needs created by the mining project.
"People are going to move in, they're going to put their children in schools. That means there's going to be an increase in students, somebody's got to pay for that," says Russo.
Officials say the county is already in high need of structural work.
And they say without full compliance, GTAC would only be able to mine in Iron County.
"Iron County only has a small percentage of the ore. Ashland County has a bigger percentage...so they're not going to set up a huge processing plant in Iron County and not mine in Ashland County," Russo adds.
"Our hope is to be mining in both counties. That's our plan going in," says BobSeitz, the external affairs director for GTAC.
Seitz says the company is more than willing to negotiate with the county.
"We'll pay a total of $225,000 to the impact committee so the local governments can hire the lawyers and anyone else they want to, to negotiate with us."
With strong feelings on both sides of the mining issue there may not be a quick resolution.
"I saw a gentleman protesting against the mine and I feel strongly that the mine should open up and go through," a local protestor states.
But both sides agree, it is time to reach a compromise.
"We need to bring the mining company to the table with us. Everything in that ordinance is negotiable," Russo says,
Officials say no timeline has been established for negotiations.
Iron County will soon vote to establish its own mining regulations as well.
Posted to the web by Gabrielle Ware