Wed March 27, 2013
Whether It Likes Mine Or Not, DNR Board's Role In Permit Review Process Limited
A Department of Natural Resources (DNR) board member is concerned about a possible mine in northern Wisconsin, but the board may not be able to do much about an expected review of a mining permit.
DNR board member Dave Clausen was a Jim Doyle appointee; he says even though the bill Governor Walker recently signed into law addresses iron ore mining, he is worried that any taconite mine would also contain a lot of sulfide waste that could pollute nearby waters: “And it is a rule of chemistry that when you mix sulfide with oxygen and water the result is always sulfuric acid—left to complete its own process. So if there’s sulfite in the overburden, there will be acid mine drainage like there has been in any metallic mine.”
However, Clausen's term on the DNR board expires later this spring, so any continuing concern about sulfide pollution will have to come from a private citizen. Besides, Clausen says — and other board members seem to agree — the DNR board will have very little say-so over the mining permit review process. DNR staffer Ann Coakley will help lead the department's review; she says she will at least try to keep the board informed.
“I’m absolutely willing to come in and fill them in on the progress of the pre-application work or the application work, and I would think that’s something that they’ll ask for. But there’s no requirement for us to run the permit by the board.”
Coakley says the DNR secretary has final approval over any mining permit. She says Gogebic Taconic, the mining the company interested in trying to open a large mine in Ashland and Iron Counties, has notified her that the company plans to file its application for an exploration permit shortly after the snow melts. Coakley says the DNR needs to be able to see the ground, and will only have 10 days to do its review.