Hundreds Expected At Today’s Mine Hearing In Hurley


Update: Check out updated coverage of the public hearing here.

The biggest venue in Iron County – the Hurley High School gym – is expected to be crowded Thursday, as it hosts the first of two required public hearings on the proposed iron ore mine in the Penokee Range of northern Wisconsin. (Listen along with the live audio stream between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. today.)

The hearing will focus on Gogebic Taconite’s plan for “bulk sampling” 4,000 tons of rock in the iron ore body of Ashland and Iron Counties. That could include using explosives. GTAC’s Bob Seitz says that since they’ve submitted their plan last June and July, the company won’t testify further at this hearing. “Our testimony is what’s on the table for others to discuss. We don’t intend to have much of a profile at the meeting itself.”

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Otherwise, expect both pro- and anti-mining groups, as well as conservation and business organizations to speak. The proposed mining site is in the watershed of Bad River and Lake Superior, so Bad River Tribal Chairman Mike Wiggins expects a large tribal presence from many of Wisconsin’s 11 Native American tribes. Wiggins doesn’t think a big showing will make much of a difference; he says the new iron ore mining law passed this year paves the way for mining.

“What we’re talking about is essentially nothing. It’s a step where the mining company gets to get into the ground in the start of a big way,” he said. “I’m watching as the mining company and the media has targeted this step as a public relations ploy, to make it sound as though they’re good guys and they’re not going to do much blasting.”

The Department of Natural Resources will run the hearing, which might have three-minute time limits on speakers, if hundreds of people show up. People can sign up on a first come, first serve basis.

One local law enforcement officer who asked us not to use his name says there won’t be many officers there. He says this “isn’t a Third World country,” so people should be allowed to talk without a lot of uniforms around them. “That’s what America is about,” he said.

Our online coverage, anchored by Mike Simonson, will start at about 10 a.m. CDT today and is expected to last until 8 p.m. CDT. Listen along with the live stream.

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