State Reimburses Communities For Scrapped GTAC Mine

Iron, Ashland Counties, Towns Of Morse And Anderson Splitting $200,000

Bobak Ha'Erik (CC-BY-SA)

Northern Wisconsin communities surrounding a site where mining company Gogebic Taconite scrapped plans for an iron mine this year are being reimbursed by the state.

Iron County Mining Impact Committee Chair Leslie Kolesar said the state’s investment and local impact fund board is divvying out money between two towns and two counties, which requested roughly $274,000 in reimbursement related to the GTAC proposal. She said the towns of Anderson and Morse, along with Iron and Ashland counties, will receive around $200,000 in total reimbursement.

Kolesar said Iron County amassed extra expenses related to outside legal counsel.

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“We felt that we really needed that because of the lease option for the county land and the problems with the Harvest Camp,” said Kolesar.

The Harvest Camp was an area where Lac Courte Oreilles tribal members and their supporters protested the proposed mine on Iron County land. The camp later moved to private property after the county questioned the legality of existence on public lands. The tribe asserted its right to hunt, fish and gather there under ceded territory treaty rights.

Iron County received $50,000 less than it requested because of money it received from GTAC lease option payments and bulk sampling fees. The state also declined requests for reimbursement related to meeting per diems, as well as around $8,000 in funding for the Town of Morse to continue water monitoring efforts. The Bad River Watershed Association has gathered about three years of baseline data on water quality from four test sites.

“Part of it is we wanted to leave money in the fund so that if somebody comes around again and we need to start this process all over again that there’s some funding left in there,” Kolesar said.

Roughly $80,000 will remain in the state’s impact board fund. In May, GTAC asked the state to return $75,000 the company had paid when notifying the state of its intent to mine. The board denied that request.

Kolesar said each community learned a great deal from GTAC’s proposal to mine.

“There’s so little precedent throughout the rest of the state,” she said. “It was almost like we were inventing the wheel.”

The state is planning to disburse payments from the fund and GTAC monies by Nov. 1.

Breakdown of payments from the state:

  • Iron County: $108,675.41 board funds, $8,201 notice of intent funds
  • Ashland County: $3,295 board funds, $12,690 notice of intent funds
  • Town of Morse: $16,641 board funds, $38,834 notice of intent funds
  • Town of Anderson: $15,275 notice of intent funds