HURLEY, Wis. (AP) - Dozens of people spoke out Thursday against Gogebic Taconite's bulk sampling plan for a potential iron ore mine in the Penokee Range of northern Wisconsin, citing concerns about possible environmental damage to the pristine area.
Gogebic Taconite is asking the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources for permission to remove 4,000 tons of rock from the site for testing. The company plans to use excavation equipment or explosives.
As of just before 4 p.m. Thursday, 76 people had testified at a DNR public hearing in the Hurley High School gym - and only about a half-dozen spoke in favor. The testimony was scheduled to run into the evening. The agency will take written comments on the plan through Sept. 3 as well.
Most of those testifying were individuals concerned about polluting the Bad River and Lake Superior watershed, and the possibility of asbestos-like fibers in the rock, Wisconsin Public Radio reported.
Mining industry and business groups were notably absent. Gogebic Taconite had not testified, but since it was the company that filed the application, a Gogebic Taconite spokesman said that's enough.
"So really, our testimony is what's on the table for others to discuss. So we don't intend to have much of a profile at the meeting itself," Bob Seitz of Gogebic Taconite told WPR.
Gogebic Taconite wants to dig a 4 1/2-mile long open pit mine in the Penokee Hills.