Police Confront Protesters Near Site Of GTAC Exploratory Drilling


A confrontation between protesters and the mining company Gogebic Taconite (GTAC)today ended peacefully and without arrests in Iron County.

GTAC, which is proposing a $1.5 billion open pit iron ore mine in the Penokee Range, began exploratory drilling today in a remote area of Iron County.

Iron County Sheriff Tony Furyk says that a woman allegedly stole a cell phone and a camera from a geologist working on site.

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Authorities say GTAC reported a disturbance involving about 15 protestors. There were reports of vandalized property and road barricades preventing access to the site. There were no reports of physical violence.

Furyk says those responsible appear to have stayed at a nearby Lac Courte Oreilles harvest camp. Those involved at the camp say they do not condone vandalism or theft, and is counterproductive to their outreach and opposition to a mine.

Meanwhile, Ashland County Sheriff Mick Brennan says he hopes to avoid making arrests.

“We’re allowing them to be out there; they have every right to be out there to push their opinions, to protest what they want. But the GTAC drilling corporation also has a permit to do that, so we have to [guard] full rights for both parties, because we don’t want to arrest anybody.”

Brennan says although the drill site entry gate is in Ashland County, the actual drilling is being done in Iron County. He does not plan to have his deputies patrol the area.