Gogebic Taconite plans to drill several more bore holes and water monitoring wells this summer in the Penokee Hills to gather information before filing for a mining permit there.
GTAC sunk eight bore holes last summer and 14 more over the winter. In a speech last month at a mining conference in Duluth, company president Bill Williams said they’ll drill eight to nine more core samples for laboratory analysis this summer.
In addition, Williams said they drilled five water monitoring holes late this winter.
“We got two and it stayed cold, we got three and it stayed cold, we got four and it stayed cold, we got five and it started warming up,” Williams said. “And we said ‘Damn! If it stayed cold a little longer we could have got six.’”
DNR mining director Ann Coakley says they don’t know how many more bore holes and water wells need to be drilled on the four-mile-long site in Iron and Ashland counties.
“A site may end up needing only a few wells, and some sites are so complex that you might need hundreds of wells,” she said. “That’s just unpredictable right now.”
Meanwhile, Coakley says well monitoring holes may have hit some artesian springs.
“It’s hard to say for sure if they were artesian springs per se, but while they were drilling their groundwater monitoring wells, sometimes their wells were producing water,” Coakley said. “It’s hard to say exactly why, because the hydrogeology and hydrology are not currently well known.”
Coakley says these wells will also let them know the groundwater levels and chemistry in the aquifer.