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Public hearing on next phase of planned Northern Wisconsin mine Thursday

HURLEY, WI (WTAQ) - All sides in Wisconsin’s mining debate plan to be heard Thursday at a 10 hour public hearing on the next phase of preliminary work for a new mine near Lake Superior.

A parade of witnesses is expected at a DNR hearing on Gogebic Taconite’s plans to sample 8 million pounds of rock from its proposed iron ore mining site in Ashland and Iron counties.

The hearing runs from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. at Hurley High School. The DNR is also taking written comments on the matter until September 3rd.

The firm was planning to use explosives to pry out the rock material – but after the state expressed concerns, the firm said it would use excavating equipment to avoid the need for blasting. The affected parties expect the hearing to be another referendum on the mine itself.

Bob Seitz of Gogebic Taconite says much of the local opposition has come from newer residents – while those who remember previous mining in the area support the project, as do parents who children had to leave northern Wisconsin to find jobs.

Mel Gasper, who runs the Lac Courte Oreilles tribe’s protest camp near the mining site, says the mine would hurt the region’s air, water, and land resources for generations.