Gogebic Taconite (GTAC) will begin exploratory drilling in the Penokee Hills any day now.
GTAC has filed all the paperwork and gotten state Department of Natural Resources approvals to drill 15 exploratory holes. There will be 12 sites, and off-limits zones will be 600 feet from the drilling sites and access roads.
The DNR is releasing maps of the off-limits zone, and GTAC officials said they will bring in licensed security guards, although GTAC spokesman Bob Seitz won’t say what firm or how many.
“We have no interest to have anybody arrested or anything like that,” said Seitz. “All we’re trying to do is make sure we’ve got a safe work site for our employees.”
DNR Forest Management director Bob Mather said enforcement zone isn’t up to them.
“The real enforcement is up to the company, if they want to do something,” said Mather. “We’ve recommended that they post signs and make it obvious so people can understand where the land is and where it isn’t.”
GTAC would call the Iron or Ashland county sheriff’s departments to remove trespassers.
But Iron County District Attorney Marty Lipske said the statute isn’t clear if that means a ticket, fine or arrest.
“It depends if it’s a trespass, a disorderly conduct, if there’s any damage to property, etc.,” said Lipske.
It appears they’ll get that chance. LCO Harvest Project spokesman Paul DeMain said about 50 anti-mining people went snowshoeing in the off-limits zone on Saturday and said they’ll be back.
“There’s people who want the ticket,” said DeMain. “There’s probably a little contest to see who gets the first ticket.”
Seitz said they’ll start drilling either this week or next.