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New Bill Would Update 1872 Law?>

The Hardrock Mining Reform and Reclamation Act of 2015 was introduced on February 13th by House Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member Raul Grijalva (D-AZ-3). The bill would rewrite the 1872 law governing the mining of gold, copper, uranium and other hardrock minerals on federally managed lands.

Read the full Earthworks article at, http://www.earthworksaction.org/media/detail/grijalva_bill_wound_end_billions_in_mining_giveaways_protect_communities_sc#.VN-u8vnF98H

Residents File Suit Against WI DNR Over GTac Rock Sampling?>

Eight Wisconsin residents have filed suit against the Wisconsin DNR claiming that mining company Gogebic Taconite needed a permit before it began exploratory excavations in the Penokee Hills. Milwaukee attorney Dennis Grzezinski filed the suit Monday, March 10, 2014, in Iron County Circuit Court.

“The lawsuit argues the Department of Natural Resources’ failure to require Gogebic Taconite to obtain a storm water permit resulted in no safeguards to reduce potential pollution as snow melt and rain runs off excavation debris. The lawsuit demands a judge declare a permit is necessary and order the DNR to force Gogebic Taconite to mitigate any environmental damage.” (Wisconsin State Journal)

To read the full Wisconsin State Journal, article by Todd Richmond, click here.

To read the BusinessNorth.com article, by Mike Simonson, click here.

 

EPA Reverses Itself on Mesabi Nugget Variance?>

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is voluntarily vacating it’s decision to approve a Minnesota Pollution Control Agency variance for the Mesabi Nugget taconite facility.

“The MPCA had asked EPA officials to make an exception for Mesabi Nugget and allow the company to exceed water quality standards for four pollutants, including sulfate. The EPA approved that variance, but two environmental groups and two tribes said the EPA was wrong to issue the variance and sued the agency.”

To read the full story by Elizabeth Dunbar, click here.

Minnesota’s Mining Not an Economic Panacea?>

“Mining could be a huge economic boost for the state, say proponents of an iron ore mine in northwestern Wisconsin. But it hasn’t been a cure-all for the big iron ranges of Minnesota and Michigan.” Read the full article by Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel writer, Lee Bergquist here.

WaterLegacy Files Lawsuit over Mesabi Nugget Variance?>

Re-Posted from Waterlegacy.org. Read the full post here.

06.03.13 |  WaterLegacy, represented by Paula Maccabee, filed suit in Minnesota Federal District Court asking the Court to overturn as “arbitrary and capricious” the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) decision to allow the Mesabi Nugget iron plant a “variance” from complying with water quality standards.

Similar lawsuits were filed by the Fond du Lac and Grand Portage Bands of the Lake Superior Chippewa.

The EPA variance would allow Mesabi Nugget to violate water quality standards for total dissolved salts, bicarbonates, hardness and ionic conductivity, although these pollutants can harm the aquatic food chain and natural stands of wild rice. Both Mesabi Nugget and regulating agencies agree that water pollution treatment is feasible and commercially available to provide compliance with water quality standards.

In explaining the litigation to news reporters, WaterLegacy explained, “What we are really saying is that Minnesota water quality standards apply to everyone, including the mining industry, and that the standards should be applied and enforced rather than making exceptions for the convenience of the industry.” Read more about the case on Minnesota Public Radio’s web site.

Learn more by reading WaterLegacy’s Complaint.

More than Dusty Historical Documents: Treaty Rights in the Penokee Hills?>

An excerpt from an excellent article by Ron Seely on treaty rights and the proposed GTAC project. Read the full article here.

THE PENOKEE RANGE – The fight over the fate of a massive iron ore mine has moved this summer from the state Capitol in Madison to the forests of northwestern Wisconsin and the green, undulating ridges along which Gogebic Taconite wants to dig its 4½-mile-long pit.

National and state news coverage of the mine has focused on a traditional Ojibwe encampment deep in the woods, about 30 miles southeast of Ashland, at the very edge of the proposed pit. From the rustic camp, started by members of the Lac Courte Oreilles Chippewa band, tribal members have launched what seems a cultural offensive – think fry bread, wild onions and birch bark baskets – to turn public opinion against the mine.

But organizers of the camp say it has an even deeper purpose.

Tribal officials and a treaty law expert say the Iron County camp, dubbed a harvest camp by Ojibwe, or Chippewa, lays the foundation for a possible legal case in which the tribe would invoke federal treaties.

Their goal: Block construction of the mine.

…”the harvest camp is helping make real the practices the treaties protect, including collecting food and natural medicines, from wild onions to mushrooms to maple syrup and tamarack bark,” said Glenn Stoddard, a lawyer who represents the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa.

Organizers of the camp also are inviting non-tribal members to visit so they can show them the wild Penokee landscape and the proposed mine site.

“Many people aren’t even aware of the treaties,” Stoddard said. “They haven’t been educated about them. Also, society has become much more urban so the activities covered by the treaties are foreign to people.

“The camp is intended to educate people about these things. It is one thing to be in a courtroom talking about the treaties. It is another to be out in the woods and see people exercising their rights. Then it makes sense to people.”

Read the full article here. http://www.wisconsinwatch.org/2013/07/28/in-penokees-camp-tribes-flex-treaty-muscles-to-block-mine/

Rio Tinto Sale of Eagle Mine Finalized?>

Rio Tinto announced June 12, 2013, that it had sold the Eagle Mine, located near Marquette, Michigan, to Lundin Mining. The sale of the underground copper and nickel mine was subject to regulatory approvals. That sale is now complete. The portal to the ore body is located beneath Eagle Rock, an Anishinaabe sacred site. Many people are concerned about the risk of acid mine drainage from the mine. The sulfide ore body containing the minerals lies directly below the Salmon Trout River. You can read more in the following articles.

Rio Tinto Sells Eagle Mine, The Mining Journal

Eagle Mine Sale Finalized, The Mining Journal

Lundin Mining Announces Closing of Acquisition of Eagle Mine…, Junior Mining Network.com

Wisconsin DNR Approves Gogebic Taconite Exploratory Drilling Application?>

The following notice was taken from the Wisconsin DNR e-mail update, dated May 30, 2013, on Gogebic Taconite’s proposed taconite mining project in Wisconsin’s Penokee Hills.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources today approved the exploratory drilling application submitted by Gogebic Taconite, LLC. The DNR issued an exploration license to Gogebic Taconite authorizing the company to drill eight exploratory drill holes. This is the first exploration license issued under the new iron mining law enacted earlier this year.

The company has proposed exploration in a four-mile area located east of Mellen in eastern Ashland and west-central Iron counties. The area of interest is part of the Penokee/Gogebic deposit, a 21-mile long portion of the larger Gogebic Iron Range that stretches east to west from Lake Gogebic, Michigan, to near Lake Namekagon, Wisconsin.

The company had initially submitted an application May 9, but withdrew the initial application and submitted a replacement application May 16 after company representatives decided to reduce the number of bore holes they proposed to drill from 13 to eight.

According to Ann Coakley, DNR Waste and Materials Management director, company officials removed five of the original 13 boreholes from the application to gather additional information needed to address stormwater and potential wetland issues in accordance with applicable regulations. The need for additional information on the five drilling sites was identified during a May 14 site visit by DNR staff to inspect the proposed drilling locations and access roads.

The department had 10 business days to review the application and make a decision. DNR’s decision was based on information contained in the application and supplemental information provided by the company in response to DNR’s request for additional details regarding the exploration proposal. Coakley said Gogebic Taconite may apply for a license to conduct additional exploration borings in the future.

The application, DNR response letter and additional materials are available on the Gogebic Taconite, LLC, potential mining project Web page. You can also sign up for e-mail updates on the project.

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