GTAC President Says Anti-Mine Protesters Are Getting More Aggressive

Bill Williams Says Protesters Have Been Taking 'Intimidating' Actions During Meetings Between Locals And GTAC


The head of the company that wants to build an open pit iron ore mine in Ashland and Iron counties says people opposed to the mine are getting more aggressive.

Gogebic Taconite President Bill Williams told a mining industry group in Duluth this week that the good news is that fewer people are taking the “not in my backyard” or “NIMBY” approach to mining opposition.

“I know that’s kind of encouraging,” he said. “But a lot of them have now become bananas: ‘Build absolutely nothing anytime near anyone’. That is a problem we’re all facing and the mining industry has gotten a bad name for this.”

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Williams says efforts to gain support in Iron and Ashland counties hit a snag, including at several one-on-one meetings with residents.

“(Protesters) started following us to these things and setting up gauntlets and cameras to film and interview people afterwards,” said Williams. “It became intimidating and people didn’t really want this and so they would start backing out.”

Rob Ganson of Bayfield County is opposed to the mine, and attended a session in Ashland.

“The people I know who attended the one-on-one who are against the mine basically went there to get information, and some of them (went) to get that information on video or audio tape so there would be a record of their response,” said Ganson.

Ganson said GTAC is the one doing the intimidating. He happened to be one of the first people to bump into the private guards hired by the company dressed in desert camouflage and carrying semi-automatic weapons last summer.

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