Public Town Hall Meeting on the Proposed Iron Mining Project in the Penokees
Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center
January 19, 2011
Recorded broadcast available online from Wisconsin Public Radio.
Partial transcript prepared by Northwood Alliance.† We welcome volunteers to listen and fill in more.
1. Dr. Bruce Brown, Wisconsin Geological Survey. First speaker, 0:03:34.
2. Matthew Fifield, Gogebic Taconite.† Second speaker, 0:18:28.
3. Bill Williams, Gogebic Taconite.
4. Tim Myers, Gogebic Taconite.
5. Rob Boyd, Gogebic Taconite.
6.† Tom Evans, Wisconsin Geological Survey.† Third speaker, 0:53:19.
7.† Dale Kupczyk, Ashland Area Development Corporation.† Fourth speaker, 1:14:01.
8.† Kelly Kline, Iron County Development Zone.† Fifth speaker, 1:23:48.
9.† Tony DePerry, Red Cliff Tribal Elder.† Sixth speaker, 1:29:45.
First speaker, Wisconsin Geological Survey Senior Geologist Dr. Bruce Brown.† History of Mining, Nature of Ore, and Mining Practices.
Thank you President Miller.† I also wanted to thank the people here today and those listening in on Wisconsin Public Radio for their time.† I know those on the radio canít see, but this is standing room only crown, and if thatís an indication of the level of interest that local and regional people will have in this project, and weíre honored by that interest.†
Tonight I was going to cover a number of question that weíve received regularly from people as we meet them and they learn about our project.† Who is Gogebic Taconite?† What is the relationship between La Pointe Iron Company, RGGS, and Gogebic Taconite?† Why are you interested in the deposit?† Why was the deposit never developed?† What are you planning on building?† How will the deposit be mined?† How many jobs will this project create?† What are the steps that you will go through to bring this deposit into production?† How will this project affect the environment?† And why should I care about this project?† So thatís a lot of ground to cover.†
My hope is that youíre going to take away three things.† First, is that we are just at the very very beginning of the process, and we have a lot of work ahead of us, study and planning ahead of us.† As weíve met people in the area, weíve fielded a lot of questions and I expect weíll field some more tonight.† And, indeed, we actually have a lot of questions ourselves, because weíre right at the beginning, we donít actually have the answers to a lot of these questions, and the work ahead of us is to find out those answers.†
Second, I would hope that you would take away that mining is one of the most heavily regulated industries in the United States.† Thereís a huge body of federal and state mandates which weíre going to have to comply.† And a number of permits that weíre going to have to go out and get in order to first construct and then also operate.† If we canít engineer a mine that meats or beats these strict requirements, we will not be able to construct the project.† If, once constructed, the project cannot stay in compliance with these strict regulations, we will not be allowed to operate our project.† This is likely to be a very costly project, and we have a great incentive to engineer a project that exceeds and meets the environmental regulations of the day in order for us to be comfortable that out project will be successful.
So one, weíre at the beginning.† Two, there will be no project if we cannot come up with a plan that can beat the very strict state and federal mandates.† Third, is that weíre here tonight because youíre concerns matter to us.† Typically a development company would not be involved in a public forum this early on, precisely because there arenít a lot of answers yet.† And a lot about our plans are preliminary in nature.† The permitting process has opportunities for public comment period hard-wired into it.† And that usually happens at a much later stage, when we have a lot more information.† The plans become more definite, with chance to review those plans, and make a thorough assessment of the project.† Note, that as President Miller said, this remains true today, thatís going to happen in the future, as our plans develop there will be opportunity for you to review our work and comment on it and weíre going to look forward to that process.†
So weíre here tonight because itís a large project, that could be a powerful economic engine in the region.† Weíre here tonight because thereís been a number of newspaper articles and blog articles that reflect the publicís heightened interest in our project.† Weíre here tonight to introduce ourselves to you, the public, and weíre here to answer what questions we can, and understand your hopes and concerns with this project as we enter into the planning phase.†
So recall, if you would, weíre at the beginning, thereís strict and well-defined regulations that are going to govern our ability to be successful in developing this project, and that your questions do matter to us.†
So, with that being said, let me introduce our team thatís with me here today.† Some of you probably will have a chance to speak with us directly tonight, and likewise in the near future.†† To the left of where I was sitting is Bill Williams.† Bill is the President of Gogebic Taconite, which around our shop we call GTAC.† Bill is a mining engineer, heís the former superintendant of the White Pine Mine, and the former mine manager at Hibbing Taconite, and iron ore mine in Minnesota.† He also has recent experience in what it takes to put in a brand new mine, having just built a large open pit mine in Spain.† Heís a long-time resident of the area, and Billís the man whoís responsible for coming up with our operational plan and ultimately producing our iron products.†
Next to Bill is Tim Myers.† Tim is GTACís chief engineer.† Tim has been working for GTAC, our parent company, for well over a decade.† And he has been instrumental in our permitting efforts of our parent company, and his primary responsibility is to lead GTAC through this permitting process.†
Next to Tim is Rob Boyd, GTACís project director.† Rob is current working on assessing and quantifying potential economic impact of our project, and looking at the existing infrastructure today and what will need to be enhanced for our project to become operational.†
And Iím Matt Fifield, Iím Managing Director of GTAC.† Iím a geologist by schooling, and Iíve been involved in financing, developing, and operating mining projects for the bulk of my career.†
So, the format I guess Iím going to have here, weíll field more questions later on tonight, but Iím going to try to cover the questions that we get all the time.†
One easy one is, who is Gogebic Taconite?
Gogebic Taconite, or GTAC, is a newly formed company that was formed to develop this deposit.† GTAC has no other interests other than this deposit.† GTAC is owned by The Cline Group, which is one of the largest privately-held mineral mining companies in the United States.† Sometimes we get the question, well is Cline or GTAC, are you guys really just investors?† And the answer to that is no, weíre operators.† We operate our mines.† We develop and operate mines, that is what we do.† In the past decade, weíve invested in close to a billion dollars in downstate Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio to develop mines, docks, and railroads.†
We also get the question, have you ever operated an iron mine before?† And the answer to that is no.† We have not.† Institutionally, this is our first iron ore mine.† A lot of the disciplines in mining are the same across the different commodities.†† But there are certain elements that are very very specific to iron mining.† Thatís why weíve begun hiring people like Bill, with deep domain expertise.† And we will continue to grow our specific iron ore knowledge as our staff grows.†
What is your relationship with La Pointe Iron Company and RGGS?
La Pointe Iron Company and RGGS, they own the minerals and the surface lands that we have option to lease.† As maybe youíve read in some of the news articles.
So we took this option to lease those minerals from them.† They way that thatís designed, is that the option exists while we go through our permitting efforts.† The lease, which is a much more durable legal document, is something that we would anticipate entering into once weíve actually been successful in permitting the project.
So once that happens, La Pointe and RGGS will continue to own the minerals and the surface area that we will lease from them, and weíll have to pay them a royalty payment as we mine. Itís a pretty common setup in the mining industry, but if you have more questions on that, Iíd be happy to take those questions.
The lease area encompasses about 22,000 acres, is about 22 miles long, and it goes through Ashland and Iron Counties.† Itís not the entire area, I think, that Bruce, that you showed, but itís a portion of that.
As Iíll talk about here in a little bit, weíre only going to be operating in a very small portion of this at any one time.
So why are you in interested in this deposit?†
We first learned of the deposit in late 2009.† As we studied the information that the mineral owners, La Pointe and RGGS, had on the deposit, there were three things that made us increasingly interested in it.
One is its scale, itís a world class deposit in terms of scale. Itís very large. We estimate not quite the three billion tons that Bruce said, but closer to 2.2 billion tons of taconite resource.† It outcrops along most of the strike, and it has many qualities demanded by the market.
Bill, you want to grab a microphone?† How does this deposit compare with the rest of the iron mines out there today?
[Bill Williams, 27:08] Weíre sitting on about a weight recover of about 30 percent.† The Mesabi range is mining anywhere from 22, 23 percent on the southeast, southwest side and on the northeast side theyíre up around 38 to 40 percent.† So essentially this weight recovery of the iron available within this deposit falls in the upper middle class of iron ore deposits in the United States right now.
[Matthew Fifield]† So itís large and very competitive with whatís in production today.
Okay so one is itís a world class deposit and itís very large.† And it is competitive with what is today.
The second is that the people that we will be competing with, those mines are very old.† All the taconite mines in Michigan and Minnesota were developed between 1950s, the late 50s, to the early 1970s.† That means that when we bring this into production, we will be competing with mines that are at best 35 to 40 years old.† So this speaks a little bit to Bruceís point on economics.
Think about all the technical innovation that has occurred in the automotive industry between 1970 and 2011.† This has happened in the mining industry as well.† The machines are more powerful, they are automated by computers.† But what they do is essentially unchanged.† They mine the ore, move the ore, crush the ore, use magnets to remove the iron, make the irons into pellets so that they can be shipped.† But despite having the same essential function, each individual piece has echoed that sort of transformation in whatís happened in the automotive industry in terms of evolution.
Starting with a brand new mine, the use of superior technology, GTAC should have a very very competitive cost structure.† Being low cost is extraordinarily important in the mining industry, as it allows a mine to compete successfully across all parts of the business cycle.
So one is that weíre interested in the deposit because it is world class.† Weíre interested in the deposit because we think it can be low cost.†
And the third reason that weíre interested in the deposit is because this is a historic mining district, with great infrastructure bones.† Wisconsin was until the 1960s one of the dominant suppliers of iron ore in the United States.† Right here in Ashland was one the Nationís busiest ports.† There are power lines, natural gas lines, old rail beds, great surface roads, and existing ports and natural harbors that we can tie into. Yes, much of this infrastructure will have to be upgraded for our project to be successful. But the bones are there.† They are there.
Likewise, there are great human resources.† Many people that weíve met with, they started their career in the mines, or they had fathers and grandfathers, uncles, cousins that worked in the mines.† Theyíre skilled at working with mechanical equipment and/or computers.† They have strong work ethic, and theyíre resourceful.† And they live right here around the project area.
Today, in the quest to supply the world with Iron, people are developing mines in the far reaches of Australia, Brazil, Sub-Saharan Africa, the Arctic Circle.† Most of those places have, they have absolutely no infrastructure, and no people, or no people certainly who could hold a candle to those here in northern Wisconsin.
So those are the reasons we are interested in the deposit.
So the next logical question that we get is...
If itís so great, how come it hasnít been mined?†
And thatís kind of a quirk of history.†
As the natural ore mines in the Great Lakes Region began to play out, two companies controlled this range, the area that weíve leased.
One is La Pointe who weíve talked above, and they continue to own it.† And the other one was US Steel.† And their holdings are intermingled.† In some areas itís all La Pointe, in some areas itís all US Steel, and in some areas they have common ownership.† But effectively the two of them controlled that area.† And US Steel also had significant holdings in Minnesota.
From what weíve been able to gather, US Steel has extensive plans for Pentac, or Penokee Taconite, and Minntac, Minnesota Taconite.† And though there were tradeoffs between the two, they were essentially comparable in terms of desirability, and with a slight nod towards Minnesota.†
So the States vied to get US Steel to open a taconite mining operation. Wisconsin passed a law that created incentives for taconite production.† Then Minnesota then quickly passed a much more aggressive law that induced US Steel into opening Minntac.
From then on out, every time US Steel looked to increase their production, or add more resources in an area, they already had all the people and logistics and plants over in Minnesota, and Pentac, the part of the reserve that weíre looking at now, just languished in their general corporate reserve bank.
In the late 90s, some of you may recall that the steel industry fell on hard times.† And US steel, who was vertically integrated at the time, began to sell off its non-core assets.† They sold their laker vessels, they sold their railroads.† And eventually they sold off their non-core mineral reserves, including this Pentac reserve.† And thatís how RGGS ended up owning this reserve.†
Today RGGS and La Pointe have leased that to us.† Theyíll continue to be mineral holders.† And we are the mining company thatís looking to mine them.
What are you planning to build?
Weíre planning to build a mine and a mill that will produce taconite pellets... the same thing that is being produced at the iron mines, every iron mine in Michigan and Minnesota...† We believe that our permit would cover a facility that would produce between 14 to 16 million tons per year of taconite pellets.† But weíre not planning on constructing all of that up front.† Our first phase, we think, would handle between seven and eight million tons a year of taconite pellets.† And from that plant site, we think that weíre going to be shipping all that out by rail.† There are old rail beds that run immediately adjacent to the deposit, and once we establish rail to the site, weíd have the Canadian National pick up our pellets and ship them, either directly to the customers, which some take direct ship pellets, or to ports like Escanaba and Duluth to be put into lake vessels for ultimate delivery.
How will the deposit be mined?
Letís talk a little bit our initial thoughts on how the deposit would be mined.
I mentioned earlier that itís 22 miles long and 22,000 acres, and that sounds like an awful lot.† Though thatís the area that we have optioned, we expect that our permit would cover only a fraction of that, about say four to four and a half miles.
The ore body is in this location is steeply dipping, as Bruce pointed out, which would make compact operation in terms of our initial thoughts around a pit.† It would be maybe 600 to 1000 yards wide.†
The materials removed from the surface, that isnít made into pellets would be stored nearby.† And we are looking to see if we can supply some of the industrial aggregate market and road base with that material.† And our ultimate reclamation plan determines what the final configuration of that material is.
So we think that this first area is enough for us to operate continuously for over 30 years.† As this area reaches the end of its economic life we would need to go through a whole new permitting cycle in order to be allowed to operate in a different part of the iron resource that we now control.† So, in 30 to 35 years, weíll see what the standards look like.† Weíll see how people are mining iron, but the expectation is 30 to 35 years in the area that weíre in.
How many jobs would you expect to create?
[600 to 650 people]
I think itís also important for you to know how we hire.
What are the steps that you need to go through to get into production?
I know that Tom is going to talk a little bit about the permitting process, and so Iíll leave that to him.† But generally speaking there are four steps.† One  is where we are right now, and itís data collection, engineering, and planning.† The second step  is permitting, which Tom will talk about,  construction, and  operations.†
Again, beginning of the process, but thereís a difference.† This not a newly discovered deposit, there is not a geologist that hit some intercept and said, ďWow, look at this!Ē† There have been extensive, extensive studies from the previous owners over the last eighty years.† We have thousands of feet of drill logs saying what is in this rock.† And we also have extensive plans of what, you know, US Steel was planning to do when they were going to bring this into production.†
Now, that is a good starting point, but that is somebody elseís work.† So one of the things weíre going to have to do, is weíre going to have to go out and verify this.† Itís sort of common sense would dictate that we want to go in and make sure that the previous owners saw, we see.
And the second things is that standards have changed, and equipment has changed, and sort of the technological innovation that I was talking about earlier
Weíre going to have to update some of these plans to todayís realities.† Itís good we have this starting point, but this physical exploration is going to be a key component for us to be able to get the information to answer the questions that Iím sure you have, because we have the same questions.
Thatís going to require us drill some holes, probably twinning some of the original holes to verify.† And them, ultimately, to do a bulk sample, which would repeat some of the grinding and milling tests that were done.† And then, take a look at the information that we get out of that, and develop a plan around it.† And that is sort of the data collection and analysis side, on the mine planning side.
Likewise, on todayís permitting standards, I donít want to steal your thunder Tom, but this project will require a State and Federal Environmental Impact Statement.† If youíve never seen one, I would heartily recommend that you look on up on the internet and read it.† It is a very, very comprehensive document that encompasses background data, specific planning, operational procedures, and reclamation plans.† In this planning and data collection period, we will be collecting huge volumes of data to prepare for the work that goes into this environmental impact statement, and then construction, and then operation.
So some of this comes down to... hereís a question we get:
How will this project affect the environment?
And there are many different ways to ask that question.† As I mentioned up front, we are at the beginning, and we are trying to do the work so that we can actually answer that.† From here on out, the plan that I was just talking about, is going to help, weíre going to analyze the environment today and how can we operate in concert with the many regulatory requirements that weíll need to receive all the permits that we will need.† These federal and state permits, that we will require, they embody the very strict standards that our legislators and regulators have put together, and that is environmental protection.
The permit process, as we go through it, that places the burden of proof upon us.† We must be able to demonstrate that we will be able to comply with these very strict standards, or else we will not receive our permits, and there will be no project.†
Once operational, again, there will be very strict ongoing requirements to monitor ground and surface water in the area, and to monitor air and dust emissions, among all the monitoring requirements.† If we canít comply with those regulations we will be shut down.† Therefore, weíre anticipating engineering a project to have an appropriate margin of error between design and actual.
There are two things, though, that give us comfort as we look at this task.† One is that this is a well understood process.† Minnesota and Michigan mines have been operating for over thirty years in compliance with increasingly stricter regulations.† Today, with the new project, we also get the benefit of all the technological and process innovation that this thirty plus years of mining has created.
Second, to another point that I made, this is iron mining, it is not sulfide mining.
Because we have a physical process, smashing rock, and pulling iron out with magnets, not heavy chemical treating, iron mining projects are more easily able to comply with these strict regulations required by todayís society.
Finally thereís a personal level that comes into play.† I have a family, I have two young children.† Bill, Tim, Rob, these guys have families.† And the people who we would want to work in our operation, theyíll have families too.† And itís in our best interests to insure that a project leaves a positive legacy, one that our children, grandchildren, and fifth generation miners can be proud of.
So, why should I care about this project?
[7 to 1]
(Matt Fifield finishes speaking at 50:26)
(52:22 first break ends)
Third speaker: Thomas Evans, Wisconsin Geological Survey Geologist
The Regulatory Process
Dale Kupczyk, Director, Ashland Area Development Corporation
Economic Impact and Challenges
Kelly Kline, Director, Iron County Development Zone
Economic Impacts of Iron Ore Mining
Traditional Consultant and Red Cliff Tribal Elder Tony DePerry
Tribal Responsibilities to the Ceded Territories
Questions from the Audience
Question 1 (2:05:53)
Amy Wilson:† What do you see is your responsibility to mitigate the carbon footprint of the mine?
Question 2 (2:08:20)
Chris LaForge:† Who chooses the types and the totals of the funds?† Who sets the levels that these funds will be at, so we know they are adequate?† What efforts by the mining company will be made to promote the idea of creating sustainable mining in Wisconsin and preferably using renewable energy?
Question 3 (2:14:57)
Tom Galazin:† What are some of the chemicals that may be associated with the mining operation?† What kind of chemicals do we anticipate may be unearthed in this mining process, is there be asbestos, will there be acid mine draining, et cetera.
Matt Fifield:† There have been asbestos form fibers in taconite.† I donít know if youíre aware of this.† It ...
This is something weíre going to have to look at, this is why back in the day they did not specifically look , we will look at this, this is the purpose of the tests we will be doing.
In terms of chemicals, is the question, is there acid mine drainage?† Weíre not anticipating acid mine drainage as a part of this.† The sulfide ore bodies are typically base metal ore bodies copper, zinc, those types of metals that you need to use heavy chemicals to treat, those are the type of ore bodies that when you expose the rock to the air, it can create an acid that creates the acid mine drainage.† That is very different from what we have here.† This is an oxide ore body, itís an iron oxide ore body, itís principally magnetite or magnetic iron bound up with chert and slate which are different types of silicas.† So weíre not anticipating acid mine drainage.† Again, the work that we do, and itís going to be a part comprehensive plan, weíre going to get you a more definite answer on that, but as we sit here today we donít see a big potential for that.
Question 4 (2:18:00)
William Gambell:† Please proceed with this, itís going to be great... but be mindful, watch the environment all the way.
Question 5 (2:19:44)
Carl Sack:† Given that Chris Cline, owner of the Cline Group of which GTAC is a subsidiary, now, donated $10,000 to influence the recent governorís election in favor of the current governor, will GTAC or the other companies involved be attempting to influence the legislature to change any aspect of the excellent permitting and public input process that Wisconsin currently has, for the record?
Matt Fifield:† A project this large has a government affairs team, and we have a government affairs team, so if the question is are we talking to State and local elected officials in terms of our project, the answer is yes.† If the question is are we trying to influence them to pass legislation thatís going to weaken environmental laws, thatís going to weaken federal and state air and water quality, the answer is no.†
Question 6 (2:21:54)
Dennis Wilde:† Could you expound a little bit on the reclamation, ongoing as the mine develops.† Who has the input to determine what reclamation consists of, and how do you deal with that input?†
Tim Myers:† One of the things that Tom Evans had said is, that I wrote down and that I thought was pretty pertinent to this, was ďplan for the end of the line and get to the beginning.Ē† And we have an opportunity, itís different from the older miners that were out here before us.† They just did whatever they wanted to, kind of on the spur.† We have to know where weíre going to, know where the journeyís going to take us.† Part of the people that are involved with this, one is the land owner.† We lease the land.† Weíre not the owners of the land.† And in that much, what they want it to look like at the end of mining.† So we have a goal that we can go to.† Weíve talked about making a lake out of an open pit, taking the material that we donít use, make landforms out of them, so it blends into the area. †Plant the trees on them as we go through.† So thatís the vision I see of what itís going to look like when weíre done.†
Dennis Wilde follow-up (2:23:27, hard to hear):† How long do you monitor the situation, say for water quality, geotechnical stability, and will I as a private citizen have any ability to give you my input on how it is handled?
Matt Fifield:† I can give at least one relevant example, which is the Jackson County iron mine.† That ceased operation somewhere in the neighborhood of 1983.† After a while the State said this area is okay.† You are free of liability on this area, and they turned that over to the County, and it became Wazee County State Park [Wazee], which people, as was mentioned earlier recreate and dive in today.† And then there were pieces that didnít get turned over as part of that.† That final piece, as far as weíre aware, is coming up here shortly.† So itís a long process, thereís a lot that goes into finishing that, but thatís one order of timescale.†
Tom Evans (2:24:48):† There are certain time limits that are specified in the law, for certain aspects of the financial responsibility for the reclamation of the mining site.† Generally, for some aspects of the mining process, that responsibility lasts for a minimum of 40 years after the closure of the mine.† Other aspects of the mining process, it can be shorter than that. †It basically...† there is a bond that is kept by the State that it gives them the power, the financial ability, to reclaim the mine, should the reclamation process that the company propose, not be able to be executed, or executed improperly or something of that nature.† So thereís a bond that the company has to post.† And the DNR is the one who determines when that bond can be released.† So a financial responsibility is vested in the company for a significant period of time after mine closure.† As we begin to monitor the reclaimed mine and [?] ...† Now in a situation where we have some parts being reclaimed while other parts are being mined, I think thatís going to be a kind of a learning process that was followed, by some respects, by the Jackson County Iron Company at their operations.† They did some things, and they tested Ďem, they tried Ďem, and some were more successful than others.† And eventually a completed plan was put together, and as youíve heard, is moving towards financial freedom.† In other words, they donít have to maintain any more bonds and that kind of thing.† So itís a long time that the company is responsible for the process.
Mike Miller follow-up (2:26:47):† In terms of reclamation of the land and land use I understand the response, Iím wondering about the water issues, not only the water quality but the water temperature and the kind of flowage during that period of time that may have effects on the natural resources.† What assurances and processes are there?
Jeffrey Wilson:† Because we know this is such a two-sided issue and you can look at the history Ladysmith Mine, Crandon Mine, and the sulfide mining in White Pine that was stopped by our local band of Bad River warriors a few years back, the question is why is this informational hearing, or town house hearing meeting, or whatever you want to call it, totally one sided?† I came here because Iím neutral, I want to hear both sides of the issue, but every one of you, maybe with the exception of Mr. DePere from the Native community, is pro-mining.† Where is the opposition so I can be educated on both sides of the issue?† Donít tell me that thereís no one in this Region that can talk negative on this mine.† Why...here,† where are you?†
Dave Zine:† I want you to raise your hand if you visited the most, the best example of environmentally safe mining in the history of this planet, the strictest regulations of any mining operation in this planet, itís been called, and that happens to be the Flambeau Mine, which was mined 1992 to 1997.† I want you to raise your hand if youíve visited there, and if you havenít, no big thing.† Next meeting I would hope you have visited there.† Who has visited the Flambeau Mine?††
Second question, the Flambeau Mine, mined between 1992 and 1997, generated 300 million dollars of gross, of which 30 million was turned back into the economy, the local units of government, much of it went to the Ladysmith area.† 30 million dollars.† My question is to you, to the mining company, have you thought about putting some money into what the Europeans and Asians, according to Jack Crede, UW Extension in the late 1980s, said was the most important attraction in the State of Wisconsin, and thatís people from Europe and Asia to experience the Native American culture.† Have you thought about some of that?† Money going for that or will you?† And Veteranís Trust Fund, the veterans in this State are in dire need.† Answer?
Harold Smith:† I assume, since youíre projecting somewhere around 8 million tons of ore processing, itís going to require a considerable amount of water.† Can you quantify the yearly use of water and can you tell me what effect that will have permanently on the water table in the area where this mine is going to be projected to exist?
Frank Cane:† The question I have for each of you is, now looking at your core sampling, the issues that Mr. DePere brought up in terms of vegetation, wildlife corridors and so on. †What is the biggest environmental protection challenge that you have considered and concerns about what youíre going to do to protect water, ecosystem, and so on.†
Steven Churtles:† Iím interested in the beginning of reclamation, the time line between the beginning of that and the inception of the reforestation, the reworking of the mining area, and also as I look at the materials that I have, will you be mindful mining from east to west or which way are you going to take this out?†
Jennifer Bewley:† My question is in respect to the jobs that youíre anticipating creating in this area.† If youíre looking at moving to a more technologically advanced mining operation, with much more computer automation, how much more, what kind of jobs, like total jobs are you anticipating creating?† You had said that 600 to 650 jobs were based on those older mines that are 30 to 40 years old.† What types of impacts is that going to have on your mining project?
Michelle Wheeler:† Iím the Director for the Bad River Watershed Association and we are an independent citizens group, a local non-profit organization and we work to assist people in getting involved and learning about the watershed and taking care of rivers in our area.† And we do that by providing accurate information, scientific information, about how local decisions are going to affect watershed resources.† The question I have is on behalf of the members of the Watershed Association and local residents and, you know, with respect to potential for mining in the area, first and foremost people want to know whatís going on, they want to know what the benefits and risks are of potential mining activities that are being considered.† So with that in mind, how will you as a mining companies assure us or provide us, make available information about youíre considering.†† Give us some information, we saw in the presentations that theyíll be those opportunities, but how can you assure us weíll get that info?†
Ron Nemick:† One of the things I heard in the permit processing is that the track record of a company matters as far as being able to acquire a permit them the thing that kind of troubled me a little bit was that Gogebic Taconite said that this was the first mine of this type that theyíre going to develop, so I was wondering how does that track record fit into a company that hasnít had a track record of this kind of mine?†
Sue Harju:† I understand that this process does involve a lot of water and my question has to do with the ground level, the ground water levels, and you mentioned that this is very similar to the Minnesota or the Michigan mining process that was done, and have they ever monitored the water level, as far as groundwater levels?
Sue Harju follow-up:† If a person wanted to check into that, as far as what theyíve done, that it could be addressed, as far as finding some report someplace, as far as the groundwater levels if theyíve dropped or what.
Mike Miller follow-up (2:51:50):† Is it part of the permitting process, also studying case studies and similar mines, and those kinds of things, to kind of identify problems and identify potential solutions?
Terry Dalton:† Iíve actually done wildlife surveys in some of the area where you folks are planning to do the mining project.† One of my questions is that in all this, really the trust of the general public relies on the idea that the mining regulations we have in the State are indeed strong and trustworthy.† And I was wondering if perhaps Tom could share if there have been examples of mines that have tried to get permits and they were actually turned down due to environmental concerns, not just economic downturn or something like that.† Because we often hear about mines and problems that the citizenry are concerned about but those mines seem to tend to open anyway.† So Iím just wondering if thereís any examples that could reassure us.
And the next question is for Matt.† We got a NIMBY, they call it Not In My Backyard, is what youíre fighting in all these, how many people here drove cars that werenít made out of iron here tonight?† And how much iron is in my pickup truck?†